10th January 2020
Why is a hydrogen generator from PEAK safer than a cylinder?
Hydrogen generators from PEAK are the safest and most convenient method of supplying high-purity carrier and detector hydrogen gas to GC instruments.
We were recently contacted by a service engineer from Wasson-ECE, a PEAK reseller in Singapore. Wasson is a value added partner for Agilent GC systems, selling Agilent GCs with PEAK Precision generators for carrier and detector gas. Peter Tran shares his own experience with PEAK's hydrogen generator and emphasizes on the importance of hydrogen generator safety in the lab.
Name: Peter Tran
Job Title: Service Engineer
When performing service on a customer’s Agilent GC connected to a PEAK hydrogen generator, Peter had discovered certain irregularities in the gas supply which had occurred from the a leak in the connection taking the gas from the generator to the GC. Had the supply been to a cylinder there were potentially catastrophic consequences, luckily it was a PEAK gas generator. Here is Peter’s story:
“I wish to bring your attention to a hydrogen leakage issue that could have cost the customer lab and myself yesterday.
The GC was located in an air-conditioned room with some high temp ignition source. It had been shut down for some time and I was there yesterday to start it up. The hydrogen supply was configured with a 3-way ball valve which could be pointed to either a hydrogen cylinder or a hydrogen generator (PEAK). For some reason I decided to use the generator instead of the cylinder, gratefully. 5 minutes after switch on it detected a leak and shut down by itself. It took me some time to figure out the leak was actually at the closing welded gap on a big universal trap. I would not want to imagine what could have happened if it had not been the generator but the cylinder. Thankful for the built-in feature of the PEAK generator.
It’s a serious learning lesson for me to leak check not only the Swagelok nut and reducer but also the welded gap for any future installations and I hope none of us will be in this situation.
Senior Service Engineer”
Following Peter’s story, we asked him a few more questions to help our readers better understand the importance of hydrogen generator safety in the lab and why it is so important for him, particularly with regards to hydrogen.
Typically, what is the focus of your work?
Oil and gas in hydrocarbon processing industry.
What prompted you to choose a PEAK hydrogen generator over a cylinder for your visit at the customer’s lab?
Safety is my main concern.
Describe the key benefit of deploying a PEAK generator as opposed to cylinders?
Safety and cost effective over long run.
Please tell us about any issues you have experienced when using lab gas cylinders?
Transportation, space constraints and leak detection.
Could you explain why safety is important when choosing a gas solution for the lab?
Any oil and gas (and not only) companies aim for zero staff injuries and using high pressure cylinders without cautious handling can easily lead to injuries.
What could have been the outcome if you had chosen to use a cylinder in your situation (when the H2 leak occurred) rather than a generator from PEAK?
Honestly speaking this question is too scary for anyone to imagine what would have happened. The incident of H2 leak at NOX in Singapore which collapsed the whole lab would have explained everything. I was more or less in a similar situation where the leak occurred at an unexpected connection. Thankfully, the PEAK hydrogen generator has a built in leak detector and it automatically cut off the gas supply after a few minutes.
Would you recommend PEAK Scientific generators to other laboratories - and if so, what would be your main reason for the recommendation?
Sure. PEAK's products meet all of our requirements so I would recommend them.
PEAK Scientific takes safety very seriously, in particular when it comes to hydrogen gas. PEAK's Precision hydrogen generators are the safest method of supplying detector or carrier hydrogen gas for GC and come with many benefits over conventional gas cylinders. Compared with hydrogen cylinders, a hydrogen generator is not only safer but a more convenient solution for labs. Replacing cylinders with a generator removes the need to move heavy, bulky cylinders and managing changeovers and supply stocks, instead hydrogen is generated on demand as the instrument needs it.
With the lower explosive level (LEL) of hydrogen gas being 4.1% in the air, in an average lab it would take around 2050 liters of H2 to reach this LEL. Having that in mind, a typical hydrogen cylinder contains about 9000 liters of compressed hydrogen gas. Therefore, any leak to the cylinder could lead to reaching the LEL within minutes and turn the lab into a highly explosive environment as H2 gas is extremely flammable.
A hydrogen generator from PEAK, on the other hand, can only generate up to 1200cc/min and only minimal amounts of hydrogen gas are stored within the system at any given time. With the following built-in safety features of the hydrogen generators there are extremely rare and unlikely scenarios required for hydrogen to reach its LEL in a lab which is supplied by gas generators in the event of a leak:
• Internal leak check on start up
• External leak detection
• Pressure monitoring to prevent leaks and pressure build up
• Automatic cell shutdown at high pressure
• Audible/visual alarms
Peter also shares his main concerns with cylinders over the years - transportation, and space constraints. Although cylinders might seem a cost effective solution for the short run, they can actually involve large hidden costs. Regular cylinder deliveries are not only bad for the pocket but also for the environment. A hydrogen generator from PEAK has a small footprint and it only requires to be installed once. It is also a compact space saving solution, allowing labs to be flexible and not worry about all the space that cumbersome cylinders take up.
Not only are PEAK Scientific hydrogen generators safe and convenient to use, but also with a hydrogen generator there is no wasted gas as opposed to cylinders which are always left with around 10% unused gases. Those gases cannot be used for analysis due to impurities as well as differential pressure, meaning labs are paying money for liters of unused gas that goes to waste. Hydrogen generators from PEAK can easily solve this issue and provide labs with on-demand hydrogen gas for their analysis.
Hydrogen generators are the safest and most convenient method of supplying high-purity carrier and detector hydrogen gas to GC instruments. As Peter illustrates hydrogen generator safety features such as the leak detector of PEAK hydrogen generators are essential to have in any lab in order to avoid hydrogen gas leakages and the very real dangers which exist when not using a hydrogen generator.
Thankfully, the PEAK hydrogen generator has a built in leak detector and it automatically cut off the gas supply after a few minutes.Peter Tran