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.

Overview
During start-up operation of a high-temperature, high-pressure plant using hydrogen, hydrogen gas leaked from the flange of a heat exchanger and a fire occurred. The leakage occurred for two reasons:

Insufficient tightening torque control was carried out during hot-bolting and an unbalanced force was generated across the bolts.
A temperature rise was induced across the heat exchanger as a result of a revamping activity, during a turnaround shutdown.

Background
Hot-bolting: In equipment and piping that operate at high temperatures, as the temperatures rise, the tightening force decreases, thus re-tightening of bolts is necessary. This work is called hot-bolting. The design conditions of the evaporator where the fire occurred were 2.4 MPaG, view more

Overview
A hydrogen leak and fire occurred due to the installation of an incorrectly sized gasket at a solvent manufacturing plant. A worn gasket was accidentally replaced with a new gasket that was smaller than the standard one, and the system could not withstand the operational pressure of the hydrogen, causing the hydrogen to leak and ignite a small fire. Furthermore, a nearby gasket was damaged by the fire, causing a larger quantity of hydrogen to leak, and the fire spread. As nitrogen was substituted for the combustible hydrogen gas in the piping at an early stage of the fire, damage was limited to the immediate area. If the hydrogen had not been quickly purged from the system, the fire damage would have been greater. It is assumed that gasket management at a turnaround view more

Incident Synopsis
During routine facility maintenance of an automatic battery charging system, 6 of 27 nickel cadmium batteries being reinstalled exploded.

Cause
Inadequate work procedures in that a probable cause was ignition of accumulated hydrogen gas by a spark generated during the replacement work, and inadequate ventilation of the battery area; a second probable cause was stopped up vent caps, resulting from contaminated electrolyte, which permitted hydrogen pressure build up to an explosive force in the 6 batteries.

 

Incident Synopsis
During development tests, a gaseous H2 test tank was over pressurized and ruptured. The tank dome was destroyed.

Cause
The pressure relief valves were set too high. In addition, the tank was not depressurized while being worked on. Safe distances, as required by the procedures for personnel safety, were not followed.

Incident Synopsis
While transferring liquid H2 from a tanker, the burst disk ruptured at 50 psi. The pressure limit for the operation was 30 psi.

Cause
The operator turned on the pressure valve and left it unattended, permitting pressure buildup past the allowed 30 psi.

Incident Synopsis
During a standard testing procedure, a 3,000 psig relief valve actuated at normal line pressure, releasing gaseous H2. The gaseous H2 combined with air, resulting in an explosion which damaged the test facility.

Cause
The relief valve was improperly set to open at line pressure, and the inspection was inadequate in that it didn't identify this error. Contributing cause was poor design of the venting system, which was installed in a horizontal position, causing inadequate venting and buildup of static electricity.

Incident Synopsis

A technician accidentally loosened critical bolts holding a fitting to the top of an H2 tank, which caused a large hydrogen leak in the dewar. The fitting contained various instruments, and upon loosening the third bolt, H2 gas exited through an opening in the seal. The Viton or neoprene O-ring was blown out of its groove and was immediately frozen, making it impossible to reseal the fitting cover. The area was evacuated, the dewar was vented and the gasket was replaced. The ullage space was not purged with helium gas during the gasket replacement, which may have been responsible for small leaks which developed during the transfer.

Cause

The fitting containing the instruments was mounted on a flange, which was in turn secured to another flange. view more

Incident Synopsis
A H2 delivery truck accident occurred on a highway. The truck was pulling a trailer containing gaseous H2. Upon entering a sharp curve, the truck and trailer started to weave and pushed to the side of the road. The truck and trailer rolled about 40 feet downhill; the trailer rolled over 1 1/2 times and the tractor once, ending in the upright position with the driver still in his seat. The truck was completely totaled, but little damage was incurred by the trailer. The trailer shell was satisfactory with normal venting through the stack. The rear cabinet doors were warped shut.

Cause

The accident occurred on a bad road, which was steep with many sharp curves. The driver was going too fast for the road conditions and the type of trailer being view more

Incident Synopsis
During transfer of liquid H2 from a commercial tank trailer to a receiving vessel, a leak developed in a bayonet fitting at the trailer/facility connection. The leak produced liquid H2 spray which enveloped the rear of the truck where the hand-operated shutoff valve was located. Emergency trained personnel, wearing protective clothing, except for proper shoes, entered the area and shut off the flow control valve. Reentry personnel suffered frost bite of their feet when shoes became frozen to the water-wetted rear deck of the truck.

Cause
A loose hose flange connection allowed leakage of cold fluid through the lubricated bayonet seal. This allowed cold fluid to contact and shrink the 'O' ring seal (made of Buna-N rubber), thus permitting view more

Incident Synopsis
While disconnecting a liquid H2 fill line from a liquid H2 trailer, liquid H2 escaped, burning a second man who was holding the hose. The man was burned on his hands and on his stomach.

Cause
The liquid H2 shut off valve was partially open, but both men assumed it was closed. Prescribed clothing was being worn.