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TOPIC : Development of industrialization-ready PEMFC systems and system components

Topic identifier: FCH-01-4-2016
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 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-JTI-FCH-2016
Work Programme Part: FCH2 Work Plan 2016
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Typical PEMFC systems still have important challenges before mass production in transportation may be realised, namely cost, reliability and durability. Some of these challenges can be tackled improving the system components as well as by introducing novel system configurations.

While the technical feasibility has been demonstrated in several configurations, a major challenge remains on the high cost of these solutions due to low production volumes, the use of expensive materials and designs not suitable for automated manufacturing. Moreover, the supply chain for some components is still not in place.

Some of the specific outstanding issues concern the freeze start that is still too long and not reliable for low cost stacks and the water management at low temperatures and subsequent freeze preparation. Some failure modes for key components such as compressor air bearings have still to be solved. Packaging in combination with cost effective solutions remain an issue in view of future integration in mass production of the automotive industry.

In addition, the fuel cell system, power degradation is still too high, caused by events such as start-up/shut-down, fuel starvation and potential cycling. With novel system architecture and component designs, the FC degradation can be reduced to levels equivalent to incumbent technologies.

The biggest cost-down leverage in a FC system is on the cathode side: the components are usually the most expensive and the ones with the highest parasitic power and strongest impact to FC performance.

Additionally, the automotive supply chain needs to be established for some of the components and should be further supported by bringing together OEM and potential n-Tier suppliers in development projects such as the present one.


The project should focus on the improved industrialization-ready designs of high efficiency and low cost Balance-of-Plant (BoP) PEMFC system components on the cathode side (compressor, humidification, intercooler, valves, and turbine/expander). The FC stack is also within the scope to be funded, although it is not the focus of the innovation. The FC stack is required to demonstrate the system level performance and may therefore be adapted from existing technology.

Development of a new generation of systems using cost engineering to identify cost reduction potentials for each component and perform design-to-cost activities and trade-offs with other BoP components. As an example: low O2 permeation valves can be used to reduce O2 ingress into the stack and thus decreasing start-up (SU) degradation. The project must include durability testing of the components (or testing at the system level if meaningful) under automotive conditions.

The project must address the following key issues:

  • Novel system prototypes that eliminate or reduce issues currently experienced with PEMFC systems such as voltage cycling, SU/SD corrosion which leads to increased degradation
  • Freeze start design and system component layout to minimize water pooling and consequent ice blockages and reduction of thermal mass to enable faster start up at sub-zero temperatures
  • Air compressor prototypes that simultaneously
    • provide higher efficiency at max load point to enable reduction of parasitic power while providing increased durability
    • meet automotive dynamic requirements (0-90% power in 0.5s)
    • improve flow vs. pressure operating window at low current densities

Optionally the project can also address the following issues:

  • Turbine/expanders prototypes that reduce parasitic losses with high recovery efficiency.
  • New humidification prototypes that simultaneously
    • improve water transfer rates between wet and dry side
    • improve durability to meet automotive requirements of 6,000h
    • minimize packaging space
    • reduce pressure drop
  • Intercoolers (gas-to-gas or gas-to-liquid) that simultaneously
    • high thermal transfer efficiency
    • minimize package space
    • reduce pressure drop

To insure the usefulness of the results for the automotive industry, the following methodologies are required:

  • Automotive development methods, design to cost, reliability and robustness methods
  • Detailed component level simulation for analysis and optimization (e.g. of multiphase transport and phase transition processes including multi-component diffusion and mixing phenomena of humidifiers etc.)
  • Sub-system and system level simulation for component specification and assessment of overall performance of different component configurations
  • Automated-/hardware-in-the-loop-/accelerated testing methods

TRL at start: 4

TRL at end: 7

The consortium should include at least one automotive OEM or their subsidiaries and at least one fuel cell component manufacturer and/or relevant suppliers to the automotive industry. A higher number of suppliers is recommended but not mandatory.

To be eligible for participation a consortium must contain at least one constituent entity of the Industry or Research Grouping.

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 5 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:

By addressing design to manufacturing and cost engineering tools, further cost-down potential should be reached on the main BoP components, thus bringing costs in line with positive business cases at the system level, not only for OEMs but also for the entire supply chain.

The project must show that the proposed BoP solutions support the targets at the FC system level. Details on the trade-offs between stack and BoPs including cost estimation are expected. All projects must also produce validated evidence of lifetimes; cost targets and efficiencies throughout life.

The following KPIs are expected to be reached at the FC system level:

  • FC system production cost: 100 €/kW at 50 000 units/year production rate
  • Maximum power degradation of 10% after 6000 h for passenger cars
  • Cold Start: Improved freeze start up performance and reliability closer to standard automotive conditions
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
Additional documents

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