Five Injured in FuelCell Energy Plant Explosion

February 18, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

FuelCell Energy Inc. (Danbury, CT) reported that five people were injured in an explosion that happened January 14, 2002. While the cause of the explosion remains uncertain, officials said they were concentrating their investigative efforts on a manufacturing process that creates a device called “the matrix,” a device that helps with the reaction that generates electricity for the fuel cell. The explosion occurred on a tape caster, a long, narrow machine that makes a variety of fuel cell components.

Bill Baker, a spokesperson for FuelCell Energy, said the cause of the explosion was uncertain, but that the company is focusing its study on a manufacturing process that involves removing solvents from a liquid. The process involves a liquid that is heated into a solid. During the process, solvents are slowly taken out and collected through a hood and go through pollution controls. The explosion reportedly occurred in the hood.

“We're still trying to figure out the cause of the explosion. The process where the explosion occurred uses solvents so that's the first place to look,” Baker stated. “The investigation will take as long as it takes to be thorough. It's clear to me that the safety procedures in place worked. We had a serious incident and people were not seriously injured. The plant is a stickler for safety and will continue to be.”