What is Lessons Learned?

What is H2LL?

This database is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The safety event records have been contributed by a variety of global sources, including industrial, government and academic facilities.

H2LL is a database-driven website intended to facilitate the sharing of lessons learned and other relevant information gained from actual experiences using and working with hydrogen. The database also serves as a voluntary reporting tool for capturing records of events involving either hydrogen or hydrogen-related technologies.

The focus of the database is on characterization of hydrogen-related incidents and near-misses, and ensuing lessons learned from those events. All identifying information, including names of companies or organizations, locations, and the like, is removed to ensure confidentiality and to encourage the unconstrained future reporting of events as they occur.

The intended audience for this website is anyone who is involved in any aspect of hydrogen use. The existing safety event records are mainly focused on laboratory settings that offer valuable insights into the safe use of hydrogen in energy applications and R&D. It is hoped that users will come to this website both to learn valuable lessons from the experiences of others as well as to share information from their own experiences. Improved safety awareness benefits all.

Development of the database has been primarily supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. While every effort is made to verify the accuracy of information contained herein, no guarantee is expressed or implied with respect to the completeness, causal attribution, or suggested remedial measures for avoiding future events of a similar nature. The contents of this database are presented for informational purposes only. Design of any energy system should always be developed in close consultation with safety experts familiar with the particulars of the specific application.

We encourage you to browse through the safety event records on the website and send us your comments and suggestions. We will continue to add new records as they become available.

How does H2LL work?

If you have an incident you would like to include in the H2LL database, please click the "Submit an Incident" button at the top of the page. You will be asked for a wide range of information on your incident. Please enter as much of the information as possible. In order to protect your and your employer's identities, information that may distinguish an incident (your contact information, your company's name, the location of the incident, etc.) will not be displayed in the incident reports on H2LL.

Lessons Learned Corner

Visit the Lessons Learned Corner Archives.

Key themes from the H2Incidents database will be presented in the Lessons Learned Corner. Safety event records will be highlighted to illustrate the relevant lessons learned. Please let us know what you think and what themes you would like to see highlighted in this safety knowledge corner. You can find all the previous topics in the archives.

A refinery hydrocracker effluent pipe section ruptured and released a mixture of gases, including hydrogen, which instantly ignited on contact with the air, causing an explosion and a fire. Excessive high temperature, likely in excess of 1400°F (760°C), initiated in one of the reactor beds spread to adjacent beds and raised the temperature and pressure of the effluent piping to the point where it failed. An operator who was checking a field temperature panel at the base of the reactor and trying to diagnose the high-temperature problem was killed. A total of 46 other plant personnel were injured and 13 of these were taken to local hospitals, treated, and released. There were no reported injuries to the public.

Property damage included an 18-inch (46-centimeter) long tear in the view more

A hydrogen alarm sounded when hydrogen buildup occurred in an unmanned switching room containing backup lead acid batteries after the exhaust ventilation fans failed to start at the 1% hydrogen trigger level. Failure of the ventilation fans to vent the normal off-gassing hydrogen from the lead acid batteries resulted in the hydrogen concentration in the room increasing to 2%, which triggered the hydrogen alarm. The alarm was automatically sent to an alarm-monitoring company that alerted the local fire department as well as company personnel of the condition. The fire department was dispatched to the scene and, along with company personnel, provided secondary ventilation to lower the hydrogen concentration to normal conditions. Hydrogen leakage from lead acid batteries is normal, and view more

A pipe rupture occurred in a steam methane reformer (SMR) process that produces hydrogen and export steam. The rupture occurred in a 24-inch diameter stainless steel (SS) pipe used to allow the process gas flow to bypass the high-temperature shift converter (HTS) during start-up. When the pipe ruptured, process gas contained in process equipment located upstream and downstream of the break vented into the SMR plant yard area. The vented process gas was a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, steam, and methane at 550 psig and 650 deg F. The escaping high-pressure gas caused an energy release and subsequent fire. The fire was confined within the SMR plant, but equipment located near the pipe failure was damaged. The SMR plant distributed control system (DCS) worked view more

A previously identified generator hydrogen gas leakage into the stator cooling water system exceeded the predetermined maximum operational allowance and the nuclear plant was shut down from 100 percent power in accordance with plant operating procedures. The leak was identified by monitoring the stator water cooling system detraining tank. Following reactor shut down and generator rotor removal, a small hole was located in the collector end winding area of a slot on the top stator bar. A small particle of carbon steel (estimated to be 2 mm/0.078 inch by 0.6 mm/0.023 inch) is believed to have caused the damage. The source of the carbon steel particle was either foreign material introduced during previous generator internal work or from a phenomenon called "back-of-core burning view more

A 9,000-gallon (34,069-liter) cryogenic liquid hydrogen storage vessel, installed outdoors at a manufacturing plant in an urban area, over-pressurized and released hydrogen into the atmosphere through a safety relief device (burst disk). When the burst disk released pressure, a loud bang was heard by neighbors and reported to the local police. The police investigated and heard the sound of gaseous hydrogen escaping from the vessel's vent stack, which rose approximately 15-20 feet (4.6-6.1 meters) in the air.

Police called the local fire department. Firefighters entered the facility and told employees inside that there was an explosion on the property and they needed to evacuate. As a precautionary measure, some nearby city buildings were also evacuated and the street was view more

Within the International Space Station (ISS) oxygen generator, an increase in differential pressure across a pump supplying return water to a PEM electrolyzer fuel cell stack had persisted over a 4-month period and was approaching the shut-off limit for the system. This decrease in performance was suspected to be caused by water-borne catalyst fines containing platinum black and Teflon®* binder materials, shed by the fuel cell stack, and accumulated within the pump's inlet filter. Maintenance in the field was required.

The system had been designed for factory maintenance, and no contingency had been planned to handle field maintenance for such a circumstance. An initial assessment of hazards for the proposed filter maintenance raised the concern that opening the water line view more

An operation to increase the pressure within a hydrogen tube-trailer to 6000 psig was in progress when a burst disk failed at approximately 5200 psig and hydrogen was released. A vent line attached to the burst disk was not sufficiently anchored and bent outward violently from the thrust of the release over an approximate 4-inch moment arm, causing considerable damage to the adjacent vent system components. The operation is conducted with personnel present, but fortunately no one was in proximity when the burst disk failed.

Following the incident, the damaged portion of the tube bank, consisting of 6 tubes, was isolated by valves on the system manifold. The operation was resumed with the unaffected portion of the tube bank, possessing another 18 tubes, until a second burst disk view more

The malfunctioning of the non-return valve of the hydrogen compressor caused the pressure between the hydrogen bottle and the compressor to rise up to the maximum allowed pressure of 275 barg. As a consequence, as foreseen by the safety system, the rupture disk of the safety valve broke and the hydrogen content of the gas bottle and the pipe section involved was released on top of the building. The flame was seen for a very short period by a guard, and could have been caused by the following series of events:

Expansion of hydrogen at the end of the exhaust pipe.
Consequent mixing of hydrogen and air up to a near-stoichiometric mixture and increase of gas temperature.
Mixture ignition due to sparks from static electricity generated by gas molecule friction against view more

Near the end of the process of filling a gaseous hydrogen tube trailer at a liquid hydrogen transfilling station, a safety pressure-relief device (PRD) rupture disc on one of the tube trailer’s ten tubes burst and vented hydrogen gas. The PRD vent tube directed gas to the top of the trailer where the hydrogen vented and ignited, blowing a flame straight up in the air. The operator filling the tube trailer heard a loud explosion from the sudden release of hydrogen gas and saw flames immediately. The operator closed the main fill valve on the tube trailer, stopping the hydrogen fill; however, the ten cylinders on the tube trailer were almost full (2500 psig/173 bar). The tube trailer involved in this incident was one of two tube trailers being filled simultaneously and was second in a view more

A closed 20-mL glass scintillation vial containing approximately 5 grams of an aluminum hydride compound ruptured and shattered, likely due to pressure buildup after 6 weeks of storage. The glass vial with aluminum hydride compound was stored inside a closed plastic box. The plastic box with vial was stored within an air-free glove box at room temperature. When the glass vial ruptured, the vial was contained within the plastic box; however, the plastic box door was forced slightly ajar. The ruptured containers and internal materials were fully contained within the glove box. No damage was observed to the glove box and no one was injured. The attached photograph shows the remains of the vial within the plastic box.