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TOPIC : Development of fuel cell system technologies for achieving competitive solutions for aeronautical applications

Topic identifier: FCH-01-1-2017
Publication date: 17 January 2017

Types of action: FCH2-RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
17 January 2017
Deadline: 20 April 2017 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-JTI-FCH-2017
Work Programme Part: FCH2 Work Plan 2017
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Driven by the demand for optimised aircraft performances, reduced operating and maintenance costs, increased dispatch reliability, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and quieter aircrafts, and the rapid growth of air traffic for the coming years, both commercial aircraft industry and general aviation are respectively pushing towards the concept of more electric aircraft (MEA) for which electricity is initially used for non-propulsive systems, and for an all-electric aircraft. As highly efficient power generation systems, fuel cell systems can play an important role in the development of the MEA concept.

Target applications range from cabin/hotel loads (5-20 kW), to emergency power units (15-50 kW), Auxiliary Power Units (superior to 50 kW) or regarding general aviation to the light aircraft propulsion systems (> 40 kW). Besides commercial aircraft industry and general aviation, electrical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have also shown interest for fuel cell technology as a key means to offer an improved endurance and range mission capability. Previous (Boeing 2008, DLR A320 ATRA 2011, Antares DLR 2009 and 2012, FCH-JU SUAV 2011) and current (FCH JU funded HYCARUS) projects have demonstrated and confirmed the potential of fuel cell technology to match aircraft needs and have helped identify main remaining challenges and bottlenecks.

Main challenges for fuel cell based energy generation systems for the aircraft industry include the fuel cell system weight and volume, the required extended lifetime and reliability to comply with aircraft operation and maintenance schedules, the ability of the technology to demonstrate compliance with the specific aerospace airworthiness certification requirements (essentially related to safety considerations) , the cost effectiveness of the corresponding fuel cell system designs and their full integration into the aircraft.


The objective of the project is the design, development and demonstration under realistic operating conditions (TRL5-6) of an autonomous electric power generation system for non-intrusive applications for auxiliary or emergency power generation.

The consortium should be established to gather required competences and background knowledge to address the above mentioned challenges and the following key objectives:

  • Fuel cell system electric power output of at least 10 kW, according to target application power range;
  • Pure hydrogen fed fuel cell system;
  • Develop corresponding key components and subsystems to achieve compliance with aerospace requirements (weight and power density, safety, lifetime, materials selection, DO160, EASA CS-VLA, EASA CS23 etc) with a particular focus on key equipment such as fuel cell, air compressor and H2 storage and distribution subsystem. Later, industrialisation and target aircraft installation should be strong key drivers for any of the considered prototype developments and this should be well documented in the proposal;
  • Implement simulation and model-based design methodology for optimal design trade-offs (performance, durability) and definition of most suitable control strategies;
  • Demonstration of FC system compliance with applicable aerospace Regulations Codes and Standards (RCS) for the considered application and identification of amendments/evolutions of existing RCS when required;
  • Demonstration of system operation and performance under realistic operating conditions representative of the selected application mission profile (validation of operating strategies and assessment of their impact at system level);
  • Experimental demonstration at laboratory level of system prototype durability and assessment of system reliability and maintainability under real operation;
  • Perform economic assessment and derive fuel cell system Total Cost of Ownership for the selected target application including refueling and system maintenance.

Throughout the project, particular attention should be given to meet the best achievable trade-off between performance, lifetime, reliability, maintainability and system power density. Safety is hereby to be maintained at the required level. Project activities may enable even higher safety levels.

Proposals are also encouraged to consider preparation of flight test demonstrations to be conducted after completion of the project, in order to reinforce demonstration value and representativeness and better prepare for future commercialisation of the technology within the 2025 time frame.

The consortium should include at least one aircraft OEM or one Tier 1 aircraft industry OEM.

The TRL at the start of the project should be 3-4 and the project should aim to reach a TRL of 5-6 at completion.

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD (dedicated mailbox

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow the specific challenges to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected duration: 3-4 years

Expected Impact:
  • Fully integrated fuel cell system design (regarding target aircraft application and installation), including H2 storage, for airworthiness certification.
  • Cost effective fuel cell system design (taking into account integration, compliance with aerospace standards): ≤ 2000 €/kW.
  • Demonstrated fuel cell system lifetime and durability under representative operating conditions (≥ 4000 h) corresponding to approx. 4 000 typical flight cycles.
  • Proposals should also show a convincing approach to demonstrate that the proposed design can achieve a fuel cell system lifetime ≥ 20 000h.
  • Low noise operation - target < 60dB
  • Weight optimisation: ≥ 100 W/kg
  • Validation and demonstration of system safety strategy and recommendations for RCS definition/amendments in the aerospace sector.
  • Industrialization and production ready fuel cell (FC) system design – manufacturing and production processes are expected to be defined as an outcome
  • Enhanced electric power generation efficiency (≥ 40% at rated power).
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. See the information in the Online Manual.

  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 FCH2 JU 2017 Work Plan 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”;
    - “For all Innovation Activities, an additional eligibility criterion has been introduced to limit the FCH 2 JU requested contribution”.

    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.

    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:

Research and Innovation Action:


         6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions 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. See Part L of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme. 


        8. Additional documents:

FCH2 JU 2017 Work Plan
FCH2 JU Multi Annual Work Plan 
FCH2 JU – Regulation of establishment
Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Horizon 2020 Specific Programme


Additional documents

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