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Develop new complementary technologies for achieving competitive solutions for rail applications
Deadline: May 3, 2016  

 Horizon Europe

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

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