The higher rate of component failure and downtime during initial operation in hydrogen stations is not well understood. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been collecting failed components from retail and research hydrogen fueling stations in California and Colorado and analyzing them using an optical zoom and scanning electron microscope. The results show stainless steel metal particulate contamination. While it is difficult to definitively know the origin of the contaminants, a possible source of the metal particulates is improper tube cleaning practices. To understand the impact of different cleaning procedures, NREL performed an experiment to quantify the particulates introduced from newly cut tubes. The process of tube cutting, threading and bevelling, which is performed most often during station fabrication, is shown to introduce metal contaminants and thus is an area that could benefit from improved cleaning practices. This paper shows how these particulates can be reduced, which could prevent station downtime and costly repair. These results are from the initial phase of a project in which NREL intends to further investigate the sources of particulate contamination in hydrogen stations.
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