Best project innovation

The projects nominated illustrate the approach of continuous learning exemplified by the FCH JU’s projects, from creating low-carbon and sustainable solutions, enabling market entry for new products, developing ‘next generation’ products based on previous research, to opening new markets for European expertise in fuel cell and hydrogen (FCH) technology. The partners leading the innovation within the winning project will receive the award. 



Partner(s) leading the innovation


3D printing fuel cells for a tabletop factory



The ambitious goal of the Cell3editor project is to develop ‘tabletop factories’, in the form of 3D printers which can make monolithic solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stacks with embedded functionality. This is a great opportunity to achieve product flexibility, simple design for manufacturing and slash the time-to-market, waste material and manufacturing steps (shaping and thermal treatments). In addition, lowering initial investment by an order of magnitude will open the SOFC market to new players that will boost the supply chain and generate new high-skill jobs. Cell3editor is progressing well: based on the results so far there have been three patents submitted.

Revolutionizing hydrogen production for refueling stations



The CH2P (Cogeneration of Hydrogen and Power using solid oxide-based system fed by methane-rich gas) system generates hydrogen and electricity more efficiently and with lower environmental impact than conventional technologies. The innovative system uses widely available carbon-lean natural gas or bio-methane to produce hydrogen and power at a very high efficiency with solid oxide fuel cell technology. Advantages include the flexibility to produce different fractions of hydrogen and electricity according to the refueling and grid demands, and the system can operate in a net electricity consumption mode and produce hydrogen-only, using the reforming reaction.

Sustainable mobility in a lightweight hydrogen-powered car



Through the project SWARM, Riversimple has developed a hydrogen-powered car. It incorporates several features - four electric motors, a low powered hydrogen fuel cell (8.5 kW) and lightweight composites. With its low weight (580 kg in total) and robust structure, the car is built to achieve maximum performance and efficiency. The prototype has clocked over 96 km/h and runs on 1.5 kg of hydrogen. The car boasts the lowest carbon emissions (40 g CO2/km) for any vehicle well-to-wheel. Riversimple is the first car company to pioneer the circular service-based ownership model, offering not the sale of a car, but mobility as a service.

Microcab: the next-generation hybrid vehicle



Microcab has designed and built their third-generation hydrogen fuel cell hybrid vehicle, through Microcab’s participation in the SWARM project. It is a multipurpose vehicle that can be used as a car, van or a taxi and is available for both righthand and lefthand driving. The vehicle can either use a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain or a pure battery EV drive, depending on the user's requirements and access to refuelling infrastructure. The powertrain engineering combines the power capability of a lithium-ion battery with the energy capability of a hydrogen fuel cell to achieve maximum performance with ultra-low energy usage and zero emissions.

No worries, thanks to projects’ collaboration on the fuel cell range extender

Various projects : H2ME, H2ME2, Big Hit


‘Range anxiety’ is the fear that a vehicle has insufficient range to reach its destination and would thus strand the vehicle's occupants. In regard to fuel cell electric and battery electric vehicles, range anxiety is a major barrier to take-up. Illustrating FCH JU’s innovative ‘chain of learning’ approach, projects (including H2ME, H2ME2, Big Hit among others) have developed a fuel cell range extender for use in the battery electric Renault Kangoo van. Suitable for both righthand and lefthand driving, this range extender doubles the range of the battery, and offers various pressure possibilities for hydrogen storage (350/700bar) depending on what is required.

Advanced MEAs for PEM electrolysers



Focusing on developing hydrogen’s role as a green energy carrier, the HPEM2GAS (High Performance PEM Electrolyzer for Cost-effective Grid Balancing) project set out to develop a low-cost PEM electrolyser optimised for grid management. HPEM2GAS succeeded in developing advanced membrane electrode assemblies for PEM water electrolysis with ultra-low PGM (platinum-group metals) loading (<0.5 mgPGM/cm2 MEA), a high performance (1.8 V/cell @ 3 A/cm2), and low degradation (<5 µV/h/cell). The new MEAs were used in the stack of a 180 kW nominal / 300 kW peak power PEM electrolyser developed by partner ITM that will soon be field-tested in Emden, Germany at the site of partner SWE.

The biggest ever reversible solid oxide electrolyser


Sunfire, Salzgitter Flachstahl

The GrInHy (Green Industrial Hydrogen) project has successfully developed the largest reversible solid oxide electrolyser to date. The installed unit has a power of 150kW, achieving an efficiency of 75-80% LHV. The hydrogen produced from the electrolyser is fed into the annealing process for surface treatment. The unit can also be operated on natural gas in its reversible mode with a 30kW fuel cell. In this mode, the unit reaches an efficiency 45-50% LHV and is a cost-reducing measure, for periods when electricity is expensive.  

Powering up: first-of-its-kind 240 kWe industrial-scale alkaline fuel cell power plant


AFC Energy

In the project POWER-UP, AFC Energy has manufactured, installed and operated a first-of-its-kind hydrogen-driven 240 kWe industrial-scale alkaline fuel cell (AFC) power plant in Stade, Germany. A robotic work cell is used to assemble the AFC stacks, contributing to increased production rates. Operating data shows that the plant converts hydrogen to electricity with an efficiency of above 56%. The success of this project has led to similar plants being set up worldwide. What’s more, the project has developed a process wherein all catalyst materials are recycled, and designs of future AFC stacks will significantly reduce the consumption of raw materials. 

Game-changing technology for higher performance, lower cost fuel cells


Borit NV and impact coatings abi are the two key innovators for the manufacturing and coatings improvements

The key to making cheaper fuel cells is to both lower the overheads for each component, and boost performance. The COBRA project set out to achieve this by focusing on bipolar plates (BPP) – an essential part of the stack, which accounts for about 50% of the cost of a fuel cell system.
Using steel for BPP significantly cuts costs, but their susceptibility to corrosion represented a major drawback. COBRA’s revolutionary manufacturing process, enabled by Borit NV, along with their new corrosion resistant coating developed by impact coatings abi, effectively addresses this problem. Together, these innovations limit steel corrosion reducing the costs of BPP production by more than 80%.

World's first comprehensive hydrogen training programme



For safer deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell applications, the HYRESPONSE project has developed a threefold training programme, designed to equip first responders with the tools for efficient hydrogen handling. The first ever European Hydrogen Safety Training Platform (EHSTP) provides a combination of educational, operational and virtual reality training to ensure safety and efficacy not only in the implementation of new hydrogen projects but also in cases of emergency. Using a role-playing or gaming approach, the innovative virtual reality programme immerses trainees in both simple and complex accident scenarios, to ensure comprehensive understanding of the effect on different types of vehicles as well as multiple-vehicle impacts.

Guarantees of Origin (GO) for green hydrogen



Responding to an EU-wide consensus among the main European stakeholders, the CERTIFHY project consortium aimed to create a pioneering Guarantees of Origin (GO) scheme for ‘green’ hydrogen, produced using electricity from renewables. CERTIFHY has established a common definition for green hydrogen, as well as a set of principles and guidelines for a GO system, scheme and roadmap. The project is a first-of-its-kind scheme providing Guarantees of Origin (GO) and international reference standards for green hydrogen. Thanks to CERTIFHY, an FCH JU-supported stakeholder platform is seeking to establish the GO scheme across Europe.

The key to automotive application: A working hydrogen fuel cell that fulfils all the key requirements for automotive application

Auto-Stack Core


The ambitious AUTO-STACK CORE project set out to develop best-in-class automotive stack hardware with superior power density and performance, while ensuring cost competitiveness. Now, AUTO-STACK CORE has devised a working hydrogen fuel cell that fulfils all the key requirements for automotive application. Using the innovative ‘PowerCell’, the project has delivered a fuel cell that is light, and small enough to fit into a car; and with the power to drive long distances. Inspired by the successes of AUTO-STACK CORE, in July 2017, the German initiative ‘Autostack industry’ was launched to investigate high-volume production of automotive fuel cell stacks.

Better hydrogen storage tanks for cars

COPERNIC  (with Hiphone as follow-up)


The FCH JU-supported COPERNIC project succeeded in improving the quality of materials and design of hydrogen storage tanks for cars, with COPERNIC’s tank costing five times less than other tanks available today. Building on this success, project partners CEA, RAIGI, Optimum CPV and WUT have come together in a new project, Hiphone, supported by the EU programme KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) InnoEnergy. Hiphone will develop and certify the hydrogen tank based on COPERNIC’s results. In spring 2018, the new RAIGI/OCPV joint venture called HYCE set out to manufacture and commercialise the first European tank of 64 litres at 700 bar pressure for on-board hydrogen storage.