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HyTRAN project shines at Montecarlo Alternative Energy Rally

The EU-funded HyTRAN project participated in the recent Third Monte Carlo Rally for Alternative Energy. Organisers say the event was a great opportunity for this crucial green road transport initiative to make a mark.

Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo

Hydrogen fuel cells are clean and efficient and can generate electricity from either renewable or fossil fuels. The HyTRAN project (‘Hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies for road transport’) is demonstrating a new, innovative and commercially viable 80kW direct hydrogen polymer electrolyte-membrane fuel-cell system for traction power in a passenger car.

Volvo’s Per Ekdunge, HyTRAN coordinator, says project engineers are taking on some of the major bottlenecks in fuel-cell system design, working to optimise the costs, durability, weight, volume and efficiency of their systems to make them commercially viable. The result is a fuel-cell concept with high ‘well-to-wheel’ efficiency (i.e. low fuel consumption), as well as easy and optimised packaging and on-board integration.

Rallying to the green transport cause

The Monte Carlo Rally for Alternative Energy Vehicles took place from 26 to 29 March 2009 and included a variety of electric, hybrid electric and alternative energy vehicles. Michel Boeri, President of the Monaco Automobile Club, says the event also took environmental issues into account in its organisation. "This wonderful event is a unique opportunity to test in real conditions and on the road the latest innovations,” he says.

The Rally began simultaneously from two different starting points: Lugano, Switzerland and Clermont-Ferrand, France. It comprised three legs; Lugano-Valence (567 km); Valence-Monte Carlo (410 km); and Monte Carlo-Monte Carlo (116 km). “The rally was run over a total of 1000 km and included four ‘regularity runs’,” explains Boeri, “during which the teams were given the tough challenge of meeting target average speeds while using as little fuel as possible. Vehicles were run over mountainous rally stages, and the final night was particularly difficult in fog and rain."

The Monte Carlo Rally is the first round of the FIA Alternative Energies Cup, organised around the most innovative environmentally friendly vehicles.

Communicating cleaner road technologies

HyTRAN coordinator Ekdunge says, “The project’s overall objective is to advance the fuel cell technology towards a commercially viable solution in terms of performance and cost. One of the major elements in the project is dissemination and training.

“Spotlighting the results of our work at a major international event like the Monte Carlo Rally for Alternative Energy Vehicles is a good example of how we are working not just to develop new technologies but also to get the HyTRAN message out to a larger public and especially to our industrial community.”