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Name: William
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: AL
Date: May 2008


Question:
I am a local Fire Inspector. Our hospital is wanting to store hydrogen cylinders in proximity to oxygen cylinders. I ran across your site and wanted to ask the experts...Is this a safe practice?



Replies:
William,

There is no incompatibility between hydrogen and oxygen, if anything they would combine and form water. The large cylinders that I work with are required to be chained to the wall or something immobile when not in direct use. The small ones should be clamped down with a chain or similar as well. The main hazard with cylinders is not actually them causing a fire, but rather if they fall over and the regulator hits a surface hard and breaks loose, then you effectively end up with a heavy, metal rocket. The larger cylinders could easily vent enough pressure to bust through concrete walls.

Matt Voss


Sorry for the delayed response. Hydrogen gas and oxygen gas react explosively. Vendors of these gas cylinders can and will supply recommended safe handling procedures. I seriously doubt that storing them in proximity to one another will be a recommendation. There are issues that apply to each of these gases -- for example high pressure oxygen should not come into contact with oils and/or greases; hydrogen cylinders must be securely electrically grounded. In any case storing them in close proximity certainly will NOT be recommended.

Vince Calder



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