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 laboratory research technician entered a lab to begin preparing samples that were to ultimately be purged in an anaerobic chamber (glove box) located in that room. As the technician walked into the lab, she looked at the chamber to see if it was adequately inflated. This chamber is equipped with a gas concentration meter, capable of simultaneously displaying the oxygen and hydrogen concentrations of the chamber atmosphere. Under normal operating conditions, the atmosphere inside the chamber is comprised of 0% oxygen (as intended/desired for an anaerobic atmosphere), approximately 2-3% hydrogen, and with the remaining balance being nitrogen (approximately 98-97%). Under such normal operating conditions, the hydrogen concentration inside the chamber is less than the lower explosive view more

A health physics technician (HPT) discovered that a scaler in an analytical laboratory was out of P-10 gas (90%Ar and 10% CH4). The HPT went to the building where auxiliary gas cylinders are stored. He located a P-10 gas cylinder and turned to search for a hand-cart. There were no hand-carts present, and the technician had to get one from another room. When he returned to the cylinder storage area, he loaded the wrong cylinder. It contained hydrogen gas instead, however, the two cylinders were next to each other and they were basically identical. The empty cylinder was then replaced by the full one and the scaler was purged for several minutes before it was used. The alpha channel worked well, however, the beta channel did not respond. An instrument technician was contacted to identify view more

A liquid hydrogen neutron moderator developed a leak between the canister that contains liquid hydrogen and the insulating vacuum jacket.

The moderator assembly consists of an exterior metal vacuum jacket with an interior metal transfer line and canister that contain liquid hydrogen. The moderator canister is constructed of aluminum and is approximately five inches wide, five inches high, and two inches deep. The liquid hydrogen supply lines to the moderator canister are constructed of stainless steel. The operating temperature of the moderator varies from -420 degrees Fahrenheit to a possible 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Mechanical operators discovered a leak following a cleaning operation on the moderator. The cleaning operation was performed to remove impurities that could freeze view more

During a facility walk-through, it was noted that a combustible gas (hydrogen) monitoring system installed in a furnace room was inoperable (the system had been unplugged). This system is used to detect and warn facility employees of an explosive or flammable environment. An explosive or flammable environment can only occur if there is a leak in the system, which would not be expected to occur during normal operations. When the system was reactivated, no leaks were indicated.

The incident had the following three causes:

A procedure describing administrative controls necessary to ensure safe operations in the area should have been developed and implemented prior to disabling the hydrogen monitoring system.
The hydrogen monitor was not hard-wired, which allowed it view more

A hydrogen monitor leak detector (HMLD) was out of service because of a failed membrane. The HMLD heater circuit and the ion pump and its associated controller were de-energized and red-tagged to ensure the system remained shut down. The ion pump and controller were later found energized. The ion pump circuit is a low-power (120-V, 1 amp) circuit and the pump operates in the micro-amp range. There was no damage to equipment from this inadvertent energization. There was also no personnel safety hazard since the tag out was not for maintenance purposes and since the system was in its normal operating configuration.

The direct cause is listed as personnel error, inattention to detail. This category most closely describes the inadvertent actuation of the controller toggle switch. view more

A routine security patrol reported a strong odor of sulfur coming from a battery charging facility. The battery charging facility is used for charging the various forklift batteries for the shipping and receiving operation. The building is approximately 450 sq. ft. and has four charging stations. Emergency response was initiated and the incident commander responded to the scene. Initial air monitoring indicated readings above the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) for hydrogen gas. The local fire department responded and setup for the situation. Facilities personnel responded and turned power off to the building. The building was ventilated and verified to be safe by the fire department. There were no injuries or damage.

The exhaust fan for the building failed, allowing hydrogen gas to view more

An operator began preparations for a cleaning run, and was unaware that a maintenance task to calibrate a pressure transducer was scheduled to also take place that morning. The calibration required a break on a hydrogen line in order to install a Measuring and Test Equipment (M&TE) gage, which was used in the calibration. At the time the operator was informed of the calibration, the cleaning run procedure had been initiated but the actual cleaning had not yet begun. A discussion between his supervisor and the facility maintenance coordinator resulted in a decision to proceed with the maintenance task and suspend the cleaning run until afterwards.

The operator evacuated the hydrogen line and the hydrogen cylinder was valved out. The maintenance work package procedure had view more

A shop supervisor determined that a second shift would be necessary to complete some priority work on the spare hydrogen mitigation pump. The work scope for the shift would be dedicated to continued fabrication of designed tubing runs, repairs to existing tubing with known leaks and pressure testing of other various tubing runs. The shift craft complement would include three pipe fitters, one welder, one QC inspector and a shift supervisor.

The shift remained under normal operations prior to the event. There had been no existing problem up until the point that craft personnel implemented some hydrostatic pressure testing on some tubing runs on the spare hydrogen mitigation pump. Work activities associated with the hydrostatic testing were to be in accordance with the Hydrostatic view more

A guest student was weighing out less than 200 mg of sodium hydride. The material reacted with moisture in the air, producing hydrogen. The heat of the reaction ignited the hydrogen on the end of the spatula being used to transfer the material and at the mouth of the bag holding the stock material (approximately 48 to 50 g). The student attempted to smother the flames with a cotton lab coat hanging nearby. He quickly determined that the lab coat was insufficient to smother the flames and entered the adjoining lab to get a fire extinguisher and warn other lab workers in the area. The other lab workers exited the lab, warned others in the area, pulled the fire alarm and called the laboratory shift supervisor. The student extinguished the fire with the fire extinguisher, then left the view more

As a prerequisite to a storage tank slurry pump run, a tank operator identified a Lower Flammability Limit (LFL) Analyzer surveillance reading to the control room that was out of limits low. The reading was a negative zero % LFL indication (-0 % LFL). The tank operator roundsheet limits are 0 to 10% LFL. The "null" value (value read on analyzer when air with 0% LFL is drawn through the analyzer) as directed by the LFL Analyzer loop calibration procedure is set between 0 and 4% LFL.

To alert personnel to the buildup of potentially dangerous levels of explosive gases in the tank, a Combustible Gas Detection System is used to monitor and analyze sample air drawn from the tank vapor space. This system consists of a sensing element, a 4-20 milliAmp direct current (mADC) view more