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Research Papers

Component Failure Analysis From a Stationary Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Demonstration

[+] Author and Article Information
Scott Lux

 U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL), Champaign, IL 61822Scott.M.Lux@usace.army.mil

Kelsey Johnson

 U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL), Champaign, IL 61822Kelsey.J.Johnson@usace.army.mil

Nicholas Josefik

 U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL), Champaign, IL 61822Nicholas.M.Josefik@usace.army.mil

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 9(5), 051007 (Aug 22, 2012) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4007116 History: Received April 18, 2012; Revised May 17, 2012; Published August 22, 2012; Online August 22, 2012

A fleet of 91 residential-scale proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, ranging in size from 1 to 5 kW, was demonstrated at various U.S. federal facilities worldwide. This detailed analysis looks into the most prevalent means of failure in the PEM fuel cell systems as categorized from the stack, reformer, and power conditioning systems as well as the subsequent subsystems. Also evaluated are the lifespan and failure modes of selected fuel cell components, based on component type, age, and usage. The balance of plant, with the numerous pumps and filters, accounted for 60.6% of the total component outages, followed by the fuel cell stack system (20.4%), fuel processing system (10.7%), and the power conditioning system (8.2%). Hydrogen cartridges were the most prevalent component replaced (79), but various filters (RO, DI, air-intake, carbon) account for almost 25% (175) of the total component outages. The natural gas fuel cell stacks had the highest average operational lifetime; one stack reached a total of 10,250 h.

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Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 3

Component outages per fuel cell system

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Figure 4

Average number of components replaced per fuel cell unit in relation to the fiscal year operated for the five most-replaced fuel cell unit subsystems

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Figure 5

Total component outages and average component lifetime for individual fuel cell power plant components

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Figure 6

Average operational lifetime and cumulative percentage of natural gas and propane fuel cell stacks

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Figure 7

Average operational lifetime and cumulative percentage of cartridges in H2 fuel cells

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Figure 2

Total component outages and average component lifetime for primary fuel cell power plant subsystems

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Figure 1

Total achieved availability of the fuel cell systems

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