Research & Innovation - Participant Portal

TOPIC : Develop new complementary technologies for achieving competitive solutions for rail applications

Topic identifier: FCH-01-6-2016
Publication date: 19 January 2016

Types of action: FCH2-RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
19 January 2016
Deadline: 03 May 2016 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Electrification of railway network is high on the agenda of EU. Currently, only 60% of the track in EU is electrified and it is much less in the East European member nations. Fuel cell technology is able to address powertrain electrification in the domains of rail propulsion, both for regional trains and shunt locomotives. This market represents high potential for reducing energy consumption and emissions, because the source of emissions is not dispersed i.e. significant energy/ emission savings can be achieved by replacing a single conventional powertrain on a large train. However, despite all the potential benefits, existing fuel cell technology components face application specific challenges that need to be addressed in order to drive large scale adoption in the rail sector. Hence, in order to achieve competitiveness with conventional technologies, additional research efforts are required.


The aim of this topic is to develop an emission-free fuel cell based powertrain system, suitable for rail applications, and to validate it in the target rail vehicle.

The project must address the following key issues:

  • Identify the components that have specific rail application requirements (e.g. lifetime and voltage levels, load cycle, power range, SU/SD, etc.) in comparison with automotive or other vehicular applications
  • Select amongst the identified components those with highest impact for the rail application in cost and performance
  • Develop improved, industrialisation-ready system components (including but not limited to: fuel cell stack, compressor, humidifier, intercooler, valves, or turbine/expander, etc.) for high efficiency and low cost Balance-of-Plant (BoP), focused on the specific needs of the rail application
  • Demonstrate significant improvement of the complete fuel cell based powertrain efficiency and stack lifetime due to integration of improved fuel cell components
  • Validate the system performance both on a powertrain test bench and a target rail vehicle over a period of minimum 6 months
  • Investigate the CO2 performance (through Life Cycle Analysis techniques) of current rail powertrain solutions and demonstrate the specific emissions saving that can be achieved by replacing conventional technology

TRL at start: 4

TRL at end: 7

The consortium should include at least one rail OEM or their subsidiaries and at least one fuel cell component manufacturer and/or relevant suppliers.

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected duration: 3-4 years

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.

Expected Impact:

Expected impacts of the project include:

  • Fuel to electric efficiency > 42 %
  • Freeze start capabilities from -35°C
  • Operational ambient temperature -30°C to +45°C
  • Powertrain system cost below 6000€/kW
  • Power range at least 200kW
  • System lifetime > 15,000 hours (with one stack change permitted)
  • Taking into account the project achievements (e.g. costs and lifetime), clearly indicate the current state of return on investment for a prospective customer. Out of the business model analysis extract the technological leverages that still have to be considered for future projects. Demonstration that the powertrain system and component lifetime will eventually allow for reasonable return on investment in each industry and make mass commercialisation an attractive option
  • Formulation of initial go-to market strategy with support from stakeholders from the rail industry.
  • Potential for future demonstration ‘innovation’ actions once the project is completed
Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).

  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme. The following exceptions apply (see 'chapter 3.3. Call management rules' from the AWP2016 and specific topic description):  'For some, well-identified topics it is therefore duly justified to require as an additional condition for participation that at least one constituent entity of the Industry Grouping or Research Grouping is among the participants in the consortium.'

    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the FCH2 JU proposal template.
  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme. As part of the Panel Review, hearings will be organised for Innovation Actions (IA) proposals. 

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

    Information on the outcome of evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.
  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    FCH2 JU Research and Innovation Action (FCH2-RIA):

    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Proposal templates are available after entering the submission tool below.
    Standard evaluation form
    FCH2 JU Model Grant Agreement
    Annotated Grant Agreement

  6. Additional provisions:

    Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
    Classified information
    Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.
    Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.

  7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

  8. Additional documents:

    FCH2 JU 2016 Work Plan
    FCH2 JU Multi Annual Work Plan
    FCH2 JU – Regulation of establishment
    H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: General Annexes
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 - Regulation of Establishment
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation

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