Plumbing the system to the outside is the better alternative from a safety concern. The best is a hydrogen generator, small amounts of H2 generated as needed. Safety issues are: A fire in a lab (what happens to a H2 cylinder), Moving the cylinder from the loading dock to the lab (usually involves several people handling the cylinder along with proper mounting and storage, a leaking cylinder, controlling access to the cylinder and connecting the cylinder all are safety concerns. There are some draw backs also but they have more to do with usage rather than safety like what happens when the cylinder is empty and how fast they can it be changed out but that can be addressed by correct design. An unseen leak with a piping system will always be a concern.. Over all, a location away from people would in most causes be best with properly train personnel who handle cylinders on a regular basis. Costs are always a concern. A H2 generator may be cheaper that piping. These have been my experiences with H2 cylinders.
We need to use H2 gas for FID-GC. Our campus EH&S officer wants us to plumb H2 gas from a cylinder placed at some remote location (as yet unknown to me, but I've heard both: a) from the hallway and b) from outside the building) to our instrument lab. We do not see why we cannot use the H2 cylinder in the instrument lab, next to the instrument, as we have been doing. Increasing the distance between the H2 cylinder and the instrument seems like it would increase the safety risk.
I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts/comments/experience in handling H2 safely in your labs.
Janet Rogers, Ph.D.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
230 Scotland Road
Edinboro, PA 16444
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