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A Reliability-Based Strategy for the Analysis of Single Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

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Document pages: 17 pages

Abstract: The development of power conversion systemsbased on fuel cells has been demanding reliability studies since therequirements associated with cost and durabilityof these technological products have become fundamental to their acceptance by the energy market. The experimentalpart of the reliability study presented in this work consisted of performinglife tests with single proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). Theproposed reliability analysis methodology covered the application ofqualitative and quantitative techniques. In the qualitative approach, a FailureMode and Effect Analysis was developed in order to identify and evaluateall potential failures associated with the operation of fuel cells. In thequantitative approach, a statistical analysis was applied to the sample datagenerated in long-term steady-state tests of these devices. A two-parameter exponential distribution was fitted to data andthe maximum likelihood estimate for the mean time to failure (MTTF) of the fuelcells was calculated. It is important to point out that the tests performed underthe scope of this study were the first long-term experiments performed with thefuel cells produced in the laboratories of IPEN-CNEN SP, Brazil. Although the resultsindicated that fuel cell performance and durability were still at a level belowthe targets normally established for similar commercial devices, the improvementof the main components of PEMFCs has been the objective of several projectsdeveloped at the institute. Thus, the main benefit brought by this study is theproposed methodology, which can be implemented as part of a reliability growthanalysis of the fuel cells and can be integrated into the design process ofthese devices.

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