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Failure mode and effect analysis, and fault tree analysis of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells

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journal contribution
posted on 08.01.2016, 13:40 by Michael Whiteley, Sarah Dunnett, Lisa Jackson
Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to dramatically reduce emissions from the energy sector, particularly when integrated into an automotive application. However there are three main hurdles to the commercialisation of this promising technology; one of which is reliability. Current standards require an automotive fuel cell to last around 5000 h of operation (equivalent to around 150,000 miles), which has proven difficult to achieve to date. This hurdle can be overcome through in-depth reliability analysis including techniques such as Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) and Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) amongst others. Research has found that the reliability field regarding hydrogen fuel cells is still in its infancy, and needs development, if the current standards are to be achieved. In this work, a detailed reliability study of a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) is undertaken. The results of which are a qualitative and quantitative analysis of a PEMFC. The FMEA and FTA are the most up to date assessments of failure in fuel cells made using a comprehensive literature review and expert opinion.


This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) (EP/G037116/1) and the Doctoral Training Centre in Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Their Applications.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

Published in

International Journal of Hydrogen Energy


WHITELEY, M., DUNNETT, S. and JACKSON, L., 2016. Failure mode and effect analysis, and fault tree analysis of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 41(2), pp.1187-1202.


© Hydrogen Energy Publications, LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This paper was accepted for publication in the journal International Journal of Hydrogen Energy and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2015.11.007






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