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Brussels launches major hydrogen fuel cell research project.

THE EUROPEAN Commission has announced a major Euro 71.3 million research spending programme on hydrogen fuel cells. The move is part of the European Union's (EU) Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), an EU/auto industry initiative designed to promote this potentially dominant future auto technology. The Commission--the EU executive--has asked for formal applications for grants. Auto makers and automotive research groups developing fuel cell technology will be key applicants. As usual with this EU programme's grants, they will need to form research consortia, ideally with three or more EU countries represented, to apply for the funding. The undertaking stated work last year. A Commission note on the launch underlined that the undertaking "aims to facilitate and accelerate the development and deployment of cost-competitive European hydrogen and fuel cell-based energy systems and component technologies ... "

This latest funding announcement is split into five sections. The most important for the auto manufacturing sector is a Euro 26.4 million tranche on transport and refuelling infrastructure, about which the Commission has outlined six projects upon which it wants to spent money. These include large-scale demonstration projects of hydrogen fuel cell road vehicles and associated refuelling infrastructure, such as hydrogen filling stations. Another is the development of electric-driven turbocharger for fuel cells. A third focuses on developing and optimizing electrodes for the archetypal kind of fuel cell--the PEM FC (proton exchange membrane fuel cell) and gas diffusion layers (GDLs), which help regulate their operation.

Another topic for potential funding is cryogenic hydrogen storage. A fifth is preliminary research into the use of composites for hydrogen storage. And finally the Commission wants to fund early research into fuel quality issues associated with hydrogen fuel cells.

Other sections have a more general application for hydrogen fuel cell technology development, including industrial uses. There is Euro 5.7 million to be spent on hydrogen production and distribution, for instance on developing gas purification technologies for hydrogen production. Another Euro 10.3 million has been earmarked for projects designed to assist the development of early hydrogen fuel cell markets. One project here focuses on demonstrating fuel-cell powered materials for vehicles and associated infrastructure. There is Euro 3 million for cross-cutting issues such as training, education and promoting fuel-cell focused small businesses. And Euro 25.9 million will go on developing stationary power generation. The deadline for applications is October 15 and the money will be sourced from the EU's major 'seventh framework programme' on research and development.

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Author:Nuthall, Keith
Publication:International News
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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