Enhanced Fault Tree analysis and modelling considerations of a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell

With the recent increase in interest in environmental issues and climate change concerns, the scientific community have been tasked with developing low carbon technologies to mitigate against climate change. One of the most promising technologies is the hydrogen fuel cell, particularly when integrated into an automobile. Hydrogen Fuel Cells are an electro-chemical, zero-emission energy conversion and power generation device. Their only output products are heat, electrical energy, and water vapour. There are three main hurdles to the commercial uptake of this technology; Infrastructure, Cost and Reliability. An understanding of the reliability of fuel cells can be obtained through in-depth reliability analysis including techniques such as Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) and Fault Tree analysis (FTA) amongst others. As hydrogen fuel cells are a relatively new technology this in-depth analysis is still in its infancy, and needs development. This research has extended the work on FTA of the Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) systems. Detailed analysis has explored the inherent complexity of the PEMFC system where issues with using a basic FTA for a PEMFC, such as dependencies between failure modes, and disparities between failure mode operating principles, are discussed. The integration of the Markov technique, which can deal with dependencies, within the Fault tree approach is suggested as a mechanism to enhance the accuracy of the modelling of a PEMFC.