A fire occurred in a continuous-feed autoclave system (fixed-catalyst-bed tubular reactor) when the rupture disc released, discharging hot oil, oil distillates, and hydrogen gas out a vent pipe into the autoclave cell. The flammable mixture was discharged directly into the cell because there was no system in place to catch or remotely exhaust the autoclave contents. The oil and gas ignited in a fireball that, in turn, ignited nearby combustibles (cardboard and paper), causing a sustained fire. The hydrogen gas and autoclave system were shutoff immediately. However, a lecture bottle containing hydrogen sulfide was heated by the surrounding fire and ultimately ruptured with enough force to cause facility structural damage. (Lecture bottles do not have a pressure-relief device.) The view more
An explosion occurred in a 90-ton-per-day incinerator at a municipal refuse incineration facility. Three workers were seriously burned by high-temperature gas that spouted from the inspection door, and one of them died 10 days later. The accident happened during inspection and repair of the furnace ash chute damper. The workers injected water to remove some blockage, and the water reacted with incinerated aluminum ash to form hydrogen, which caused the explosion.
Workers noticed that the post-combustion zone was full of ash and the ash pusher was not working properly, so they tried to remove the ash from the inspection door with a shovel. They discovered a solid layer of "clinker", which is formed by solidification of molten material such as aluminum. The explosion view more
A hydrogen explosion and fire occurred in the benzene unit of a styrene plant in a large petrochemical complex. The unit was being restarted following a scheduled maintenance shutdown. The explosion followed the release of about 30 kilograms of 700-psig hydrogen gas from a burst flange into a compressor shed. Two men were killed and two others were injured. If it had not been a holiday, the death toll and injuries would probably have been much worse.
The operators were bringing the plant online and increasing the hydrogen circulation pressure. About 10-15 seconds before the explosion, they heard a pop and then a loud hiss of pressure being released within the compressor shed. Witnesses reported seeing a white flash and then a large fireball. The fires burned out in 2-3 minutes, view more
Unit 1 Plant power was stable at 90% following a plant startup. The Auxiliary Operator (AO) performed a pre-job brief with shift management before adding hydrogen to the main generator. While performing the addition, the AO attempted to verify open a half-inch hydrogen addition valve. The AO was unable to move the valve by hand and mistakenly assumed the valve was stuck on its closed seat. The valve is a normally open valve and the procedure step was to verify the valve was, in fact, open. The AO obtained a pipe wrench to assist in freeing the valve off of its "closed" seat. Using the pipe wrench, the valve handwheel was turned in the open direction. The AO attempted to open the valve by hand again. Unable to move the valve by hand, the pipe wrench was used to further open view more
A researcher was using numerous compressed gases in his lab. To facilitate reconfiguring his experimental apparatus, he installed "quick-disconnect" fittings on flexible tubing connected to his compressed gas cylinders/regulators. He also fitted all of the equipment that needed gas with complementary "quick-disconnect" fittings.
The day of the incident, he needed to purge his IR spectrometer with nitrogen as the element heated up. He mistakenly attached the "quick-disconnect" fitting from a cylinder of 10% nitrogen and 90% hydrogen to the "quick-disconnect" fitting on his spectrometer. As soon as the gas started flowing and he switched on the element, the instrument exploded, completely destroying a $6,000 piece of equipment. Only minor view more
A researcher was unplugging an electrical cord when 1/8-inch copper tubing supplying nitrogen to a gas chromatograph came in contact with the energized electrical plug, causing an electrical arc. This caused a hole in the copper tubing. A nearby hydrogen line was unaffected.
The bottled gas supply was shut off. Craftsmen were brought in to reinstall the copper tubing, at a safe distance from the electrical outlet.
An over-pressurization of two 55-gallon drums of waste phosphoric acid resulted in a material failure of the drum bottoms, releasing the contents of both drums (about 100 gallons) onto the facility floor. The spillage was collected within the sumps that are part of the facility's spill control system. The waste material had been packaged into DOT-specified containers earlier that day and the drums were placed into an assigned storage cell. That evening a staff member heard a noise in the high bay where hazardous wastes are stored. Upon investigating, he discovered the breached drums and spilled material.
The only material released to the environment was hydrogen gas. The maximum concentration of hydrogen released into the facility was 0.035%, well below the lower view more
Only 25 minutes after the normal work shift ended, an explosion occurred at a hydrogen storage and use facility that had been in a non-operational mode for several months while undergoing modifications for future tests. No one was in the facility at the time of the explosion. The event was viewed about 30 seconds after the explosion by two engineers in a blockhouse 1000 feet away. Authorities were notified and calls were placed to other personnel needed to secure the area. About 8 minutes later, the engineers moved to a vantage point about 450 feet from the facility. There they viewed heat waves rising from a central location on the test pad, heard popping sounds similar to gaseous hydrogen (GH2) venting on a burn pond, and suspected that a hydrogen fire was in process. They returned view more
An accident occurred during setup for a popular hydrogen-oxygen balloon science demonstration at a local public school. The demonstrator suffered painful second-degree burns to his right forearm and was taken to the hospital. The paramedics feared that grave respiratory damage (due to flame inhalation) might have occurred.
The demonstrator had transported 15 helium-quality balloons, pre-filled with a hydrogen-oxygen mixture, in a large, black, polyethylene garbage bag. During the setup, he opened the bag to remove a single balloon for stringing and floating. Without warning, the entire bag of balloons detonated violently. Fortunately, the incident occurred an hour prior to the program and no one else was near. It was also fortunate that only a small box caught fire and none of view more
During the early morning hours on a Tuesday, a university support staff member was preparing for an off-campus community outreach program for high-school-age students in the community. One of the program demonstrations was to show students the reaction energy and properties of the hydrogen + oxygen = water chemical reaction. It was a demonstration that the professor and the staff member overseeing the program had done for over 15 years with no incidents ever occurring.
To prepare for the demonstration, eight balloons were filled, four with pure hydrogen and four with the proper combination of hydrogen and oxygen. The balloons were placed into a larger plastic garbage bag and carried outside to a university-owned SUV located next to the building's loading dock. The bag of view more