Injured researcher released from hospital after explosion on UH Manoa campus

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A message from University of Hawaii Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman on Monday said a visiting researcher who was injured in an explosion on the Manoa campus on March 16 has been released from the hospital.

The accident occurred in a Hawaii Natural Energy Institute biofuels research laboratory in the Pacific Ocean Science and Technology (POST) building. At the time, the researcher was doing an experiment working with a mixture of low-pressure hydrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen.

At a press conference held that same day, Brian Taylor, dean of the university’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology said “Hydrogen and oxygen can react, but they actually require something. They won’t in themselves do something like that, so something happened out of the ordinary. We don’t know what that is yet.”

The university’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research has asked the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety to conduct an independent investigation to determine the cause of the explosion, and to develop lessons learned to help prevent anything like this from recurring.

“The University of California team was on campus last week, and we anticipate that their investigation will be complete by the end of April.” the chancellor’s message said. “All preliminary indications are that the accident was an isolated incident and not the result of a systemic problem within the POST building or intentional wrongdoing.”

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