The Danish region of western Jutland is hoping to be the first in Europe to use hydrogen-powered trains. This, and other ambitious projects, both national and pan-European, sums up the Dane's attitude to research and development (R&D)
forward looking. Headlines takes a quick look at the Danish research landscape.
A train powered by hydrogen energy would be a defining project for western Jutland's new Hydrogen Innovation and Research Centre (HIRC), which was set up expressly to put Denmark on the fast track to developing hydrogen applications.
|A European hydrogen-powered bus – next stop hydrogen trains!|
© European Commission
Jens-Christian Møller, managing director of the HIRC, says, “Our goal is to get Europe's first commercially viable hydrogen train in Europe.” Today, many international projects using hydrogen in cars and buses exist, but there a very few for hydrogen trains. Those in progress are mostly centred in the United States and Japan, he adds. “That's why we have a chance to make something of international value in western Jutland.'
Three towns in the region – Vemb, Lemvig and Thyborøn – have committed funding for a hydrogen train running along the 59km line connecting them. The European Union and the town of Ringkøbing have also expressed interest in contributing to the project, reports the Danish Research and Innovation Information Service (DRIIS).
The HIRC now hopes to attract the attention of train manufacturers interested in participating in the project. With this project and other technology transfer activities, “we will help secure the long-term energy supplies and create a cleaner environment”, he is quoted as saying.
Hydrogen power is delivered thanks to progress in ‘fuel cell' technology, which although it has been around since the 1960s is only now finding its way into vehicles, such as buses, cars and now trains. It is an odourless, colourless gas. One hydrogen atom has a nucleus with a single proton that is circled by a single electron.
Rolling out exploitable results
At the time of reporting, a total of 138 entries appear in the DRIIS-hosted database of Exploitable Results – European research projects which are ready to roll out or further develop their results to make new technologies, products and services benefiting Europe.
Topping the list is European Telework On-line (ETO) – a network of websites spanning 20 countries and providing resources and connections in the telework and teletrade fields – is looking for users to pilot their system in an effort to reduce the amount of case-by-case customisation currently needed.
Several projects, funded by the European Union's BIOMED 2 research programme, are looking for partners for information exchanges, training and R&D input – one of these being a collaborative project using different magnetic resonance techniques in the study of brain diseases.
Danish participation in past EU research Framework Programmes – in different activities, such as the ‘Quality of Life and management of living resources' (LIFE), ‘Information Society Technologies' (IST) and ‘Competitive and Sustainable Growth' (GROWTH) schemes – is noteworthy. In the FP5, for instance, projects containing at least one Danish partner totalled 1 570, with 422 actually led by organisations based in Denmark. The trend towards strong participation in EU research looks to be continuing in the latest programme, FP6.