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Fault Tree Analysis of Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells to predict degradation phenomenon

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conference contribution
posted on 2013-10-28, 15:11 authored by Michael Whiteley, Sarah DunnettSarah Dunnett, Lisa JacksonLisa Jackson
Hydrogen Fuel Cells are an electro-chemical, zero-emission energy conversion and power generation device. Their only products are heat and electrical energy, and water vapour. One of the major hurdles to the uptake of this technology is the reliability of the fuel cell system. This hurdle can be overcome through in depth reliability analysis including Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) and Fault Tree analysis (FTA) amongst others. Research has found that the reliability research area regarding hydrogen fuel cells is still in its infancy, and needs development. This paper looks at the current state of the art in reliability analysis regarding Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells (PEMFC). A recent fault tree (FT) from the literature is qualitatively analysed to ascertain its practicality in relation to PEMFC degradation analysis. The fault tree was found to harbour certain aspects that could be improved upon. There was no FMEA undertaken to precede the FT which would have given a greater understanding of the possible failure modes in a PEMFC system and their relationships. The FT was found to be lacking dependant relationships which are apparent in a PEMFC system. The data from the literature was also analysed to check its relevance in today’s fast moving PEMFC research. Conclusions are given to the way forward for future reliability evaluation of PEMFCs.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


WHITELEY, M., DUNNETT, L. and BARTLETT-JACKSON, L., 2013. Fault Tree Analysis of Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells to predict degradation phenomenon. IN: Jackson, L. and Andrews, J. (eds). Proceedings of 20th AR2TS, Advances in Risk and Reliability Techniques Symposium, Loughborough University, Burleigh Court Conference Centre, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK, 21st-23rd May 2013, pp.75-88.


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