Hydrogen Safety in the Lab

Workplace safety is always a top priority, especially when working with hazardous materials. Wearing safety glasses and gloves while in a lab has become second nature, and though the safety procedures don’t change, we still attend regularly scheduled safety protocol meetings. We do these things to protect ourselves from the hazards we work with, and to prevent accidents, but there may be something you’re missing.

It is easy to overlook the dangers of using hydrogen gas since it’s odorless, colorless and dissipates quickly into the atmosphere. However, when a constant supply of hydrogen is used as it is in fuel cell testing, it can quickly accumulate to dangerous levels particularly in enclosed areas like your lab. What if the hydrogen supply lines are not securely connected to the testing system? Would you know if there was a leak? Hydrogen safety can rapidly become a large issue without warning.

We would like to hope that no accidents would ever happen, but as we all know, accidents do happen. Our job is to do our best to protect against them. That is why we recommend every lab or workspace where hydrogen gas is being supplied or used should have a hydrogen monitoring and alarm system installed. We use the NTM Sensors hydrogen monitoring and alarm system, which rapidly responds to hydrogen in the ambient air before it reaches the lower flammability level and has audible and visual alarms to alert personnel in the area.

To promote hydrogen safety in the lab, we are now offering this hydrogen monitoring and alarm system on the website. This system is all you need to protect yourself and others from dangerous levels of hydrogen that can quickly accumulate in your lab or workspace.

Other Tips to Improve Hydrogen Safety:

  • Make sure your workspace is well ventilated.
  • Ventilation should be located near the ceiling, as that is where hydrogen will collect.
  • Separate Hydrogen cylinders from oxygen, chlorine, and other oxidizers by at least 20 feet (6.1 meters) or use an approved gas cabinet.
  • Store only where temperatures will not exceed 125° F (52° C).
  • The must be no sources of ignition in areas where Hydrogen is being stored.
  • Segregate empty cylinders from full cylinders.
  • When a cylinder is not in use, screw the valve protection cap firmly in place.
  • Secure cylinders upright at the top and bottom. Adjust the cylinder racks so that cylinders are tightly secured.