Ban on hydrogen in cylinders for balloons sought

The department of Explosives wants a ban on the use of hydrogen gas in cylinders for gas balloons to avert accidents. To this end, the Department submitted a report to the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources on Wednesday, a top official said. It is often witnessed that hawkers carry balloons with hydrogen cylinder in small vans on city streets and villages. These balloons create a strong attraction for children and teenagers, who throng the vans.

But these gas cylinders may create great danger at any time. Recently, such a gas cylinder exploded at Rupnagar in the capital, killing 7 children and injuring 15 other people. Experts said, helium gas is supposed to be used in ordinary balloons as this gas is less dangerous. But balloon vendors are using hydrogen gas instead of helium. They also use low quality and date expired cylinders, resulting in frequent cylinder blasts.

The Department of Explosives formed a probe committee to investigate the Rupnagar incident. The committee has already made a report that was submitted to the ministry on Wednesday. In this context, Mohammad Samsul Alam, Chief Inspector of Explosives Department, told Bangladesh Post ‘We have submitted a report to the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources, to ban the use of hydrogen gas in cylinders for balloons. The government will decide the matter.’

Sources said, there are some suggestions in the investigation report, that includes discouraging parents and children to buy hydrogen-filled balloons. Besides, if anyone sees such cylinder they should report it to the local police station. Samul Alam said, some hawkers who sell balloons make hydrogen gas in the cylinder. As a result, the potential for accidents increases.

He said ‘We have been saying it for a long time that it is very risky to make hydrogen inside the cylinder. Almost every police station in the country is aware about this. Now we are issuing fresh letter on the warning.’ The expert said, hydrogen and helium gases are lighter than air. However, hydrogen gas is lighter than helium. When hydrogen gas is filled into the balloon, it flies more.

Normally, a balloon is filled with two types of gas, one is helium and the other is hydrogen. It is very easy to make hydrogen gas. But helium gas making procedure is comparatively difficult. The price of a helium gas cylinder is around taka 1 lakh, whereas a hydrogen gas cylinder price is taka 60-65 thousand.

On the other hand, one cubic meter of helium is taka 7 to 7.5 thousand, whereas the same amount of hydrogen gas is taka 4 to 4.5 thousand. But if anyone makes the hydrogen gas, per cylinder cost is around taka 60 to 100. That is why some balloon hawkers make hydrogen gas by mixing aluminum, water and caustic soda in their homes, which is more dangerous.

Sources said, the cylinder that blast at Rupnagar was an LPG cylinder that takes low pressure gas. But hydrogen is a high pressure gas. As a result, when hydrogen gas is filled in an LPG cylinder, there are chances it will burst.