Quality and Reliability Engineering International

Critical Flow Method: A New Reliability Allocation Approach for a Thermonuclear System

Journal Article

In the present work, starting from well‐known methodologies, a new reliability allocation method [critical flow method (CFM)] has been proposed.

We focused on the most important conventional methods and discussed their limitations in order to motivate the current research. The results show the main common problem of the most conventional reliability allocation methods: they are developed for complex systems with series configurations but not for series–parallel ones. The consequence is an increase of the required units' reliability (series configuration) in order to guarantee the reliability system target.

Actually, the design and manufacturing of a subsystem with an extremely low failure rate would consume a considerable amount of economic resources. The proposed method can solve the shortcomings of the conventional methods with a new reliability approach useful to series–parallel configurations in order to obtain an important cost saving. The CFM has been applied to a liquid nitrogen cooling installation in a thermonuclear system, with many series–parallel configurations in order to guarantee the whole safety system. The proposed technique can be applied to working complex systems, and, in general, in the design phase of new installations. By comparing the CFM application results with real parameters, the new technique has been validated. The computational results clearly demonstrate the advantages of the proposed method. In particular, by applying the method to series–parallel configurations, it allocates failure rates higher than conventional methods, with a component cost reduction. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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