A metal hydride storage system was refilled using compressed hydrogen in a closed lab environment. The tank system is an in-house development and is optimized for high hydrogen storage density and use with an air-cooled fuel cell. The system is equipped with a pressure relief valve that opens gradually at 35 bar to protect the tank from overpressure conditions. The tank itself is designed to adsorb 400 g of hydrogen at a pressure less than 15 bar.
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.
Hydrogen was released near the ground when the vent line from a 13,000-gallon liquid hydrogen storage vessel suffered damage from unusually high winds. The toppled vent line did not shear or tear, but sustained a kink that restricted hydrogen flow and created a back pressure on the vessel relief system.
Repair efforts were hampered by the potential for cold hydrogen gas, a flammability hazard, in the work area. Shut off or redirection of the hydrogen was not possible, and variable breezes made set up of safe zones uncertain. A protocol had not been prepared for this scenario.