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Fuel-Cell Hybrid Vehicle System Component Development

The objective of the project is the research on low-cost components for fuel-cell (FC) systems and electric drive systems, which can be used in future hybridised FC vehicles (a medium-term objective) and ICE vehicles. The components will be integrated and validated in two vehicles.

Tags: Road


Fuel-cell drivetrains for road transport applications are seen as the most promising technology for a sustainable mobility, especially when fuelled with hydrogen. Until now, intensive research and development has led to significant improvements of FC technology. However, market introduction of fuel-cell vehicles (FCV) has not yet been achieved due to several reasons. One very important point is the availability of reliable series components which can be mass-produced at low cost. This is a prerequisite for competitive fuel-cell vehicles. On the other hand, hybridisation of cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) is also a viable option for future transport. Hybrid (ICE) electric vehicles (HEV) could help to bridge the gap until hydrogen FCVs are available on the general market. FCVs and HEVs both need low cost e-drive components. Thus there is a need to achieve synergies between these two technologies in order to use scale effects for cost reduction of e-drive components. With this background, the project aims at the development of low-cost components for FCV hybrids and ICE hybrids in Europe. Automotive industries, suppliers, universities and research institutes are co-operating in a common effort to make the necessary steps forward.


The goals of the project are:

  • the improvement of fuel-cell system components for market readiness
  • the improvement of electric drivetrain components (synergies between FC and ICE hybrids) for market readiness
  • the optimisation of a system architecture for low-energy consumption, high performance, high durability and reliability
  • the optimisation of energy management
  • the development of low-cost components for mass production
  • the validation of component and system performance on FC vehicles.

The concrete targets of the project are:

  • low-cost automotive electrical turbochargers for air supply with high efficiency and high dynamics
  • low-cost humidifiers with high packaging density
  • low-cost hydrogen sensors for automotive use
  • effective low-cost hydrogen supply lines
  • highly efficient, high-powered density drivetrain
  • low-cost, high-powered Li-Ion batteries
  • enhanced FC drivetrain efficiency.
Example of an FC system (NuCellSYS HY-80) for an automotive drivetrain
Example of an FC system (NuCellSYS HY-80) for an automotive drivetrain

Description of work

The focus of the project is on components that have a high potential of significant cost reduction by decreasing the complexity and/or choosing innovative approaches to support a future mass production. The project is structured in four technical subprojects, plus one covering project management. In the subproject for the FC system components, the key components that are investigated are an innovative air supply based on electrical turbochargers, novel humidification subsystems, new hydrogen sensors and innovative hydrogen injection system components. In the subproject for the electric drive system we focus on highly integrated drivetrains (converters, inverters and electrical motors) and high-energy-density battery systems based on innovative Li-Ion technology, which has been developed in other EU-funded projects (EV-lift, Lionheart). All the component work is accompanied by a subproject covering work on vehicle requirements, subsystems and components (including standardisation and identification of synergies between FC and ICE hybrids), safety aspects, a comparative investigation of different electrical storage systems (battery/supercap) and the respective e-storage management. In the system level subproject, not only will the components be integrated and tested in the two validator vehicles, but work will also be performed on optimised vehicle control strategies, energy-management and the development of modular system control software.


The main results of the project will be improved FC-system components and improved components for the e-drive and fuel-cell systems as well as the hydrogen supply, with full specifications for these components and the systems. Components standardisation and synergies between FCVs and HEVs will also be an outcome of the project. Finally, the developed components will be integrated in two vehicles with widely different hybrid architectures, although both oriented to the light good delivery sector which is likely to constitute an early market for FCV vehicles in fleet applications. The first will be a larger, full hybrid delivery van, while the second will be a smaller vehicle with a range extender architecture.

Results from testing the two vehicles will show to which extent the same components and principles can be applied for different vehicle concepts. Components developed in the project are intended to form the basis for series components which could be produced from European suppliers for future vehicle drive trains. Integrating these in fuel-cell vehicles and (ICE) hybrid electric vehicles will thus allow the development of competitive products for the European and world markets.