Fuel Cell Based Power Generation

Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Transport and refuelling infrastructure
Fuel Cell Based On-board Power Generation

Key Objectives of the project

The overall objectives of FCGEN are to develop and demonstrate a proof-of-concept complete fuel cell auxiliary unit. The project will further develop the key components and subsystem technologies that have been advanced by the project partners in previous collaborations and move them closer towards commercially viable solutions, see Table 1 for specific and concrete targets. Particular issues, such as catalyst cost, fuel vaporisation and desulphurisation, packaging of components, robustness etc. will be addressed through targeted R&D.

Table 1: Concrete targets for the Auxiliary Power Unit.


3-5 kW Diesel APU

Durability (hours)


Cost (Euro/kW)

≤ 1000


≈ 30%

Weight (kg)

Volume (L)



The targets for FCGEN also include significant reductions in fuel consumption:

  • 80% reduction compared to conventional idling (>4 litres/hour)
  • 40% reduction compared to diesel based APU


Challenges/issues addressed

The main identified challenges that are addressed in the FCGEN project are: Cost, size and weight, operational conditions, reforming of logistical fuels, component and system durability and efficiency.

Fuel processor components needs cost, durability, weight, volume, efficiency optimization.

For the Balance of Plant (BoP) components major development work is needed as many of these components are more or less on-shelf products that are not compatible with the chemical environment in the system and likely not able to withstand the truck environment regarding temperature; vibrations shock etc. For the complete APU system efficiency and compactness are two challenging targets. The system shall be placed in real truck vehicle and deliver the required power for the hotel cabinet as specified by the OEM, and according to the usage cycle, with minimum interface to the main truck. This demands a compact, robust, manufacturable and cost effective APU system to meet the market targets.


Technical approach/objectives

The work within the project contains different phases in order to reach the system targets for high efficiency, very low emissions of harmful gases, long durability and reduced system cost and size. A major part of the work is devoted to the development of the fuel processor system parts. As the fuel processor contains several precious metal based catalyst, the project will issue system cost reduction by reducing the precious metal loading without scarifying the catalyst performance.  System size reduction is achieved by replacing several conventional reactors and heat exchangers with two coated micro channel heat exchanger as well as by system packaging optimization. Another important milestone and deliverable is to work together with supplier to develop or optimize on shelf balance of plant components that are adapted to FC-based APU systems. Most system components need to be controlled and for that purpose, the project will demonstrate the functionality of all control hardware modules, develop software modules and demonstrate the functionality of the complete control system under real conditions.  As the system is going to be integrated and tested on –board a vehicle, the work will include safety and vehicle interface specifications deliverables. At the end of the work period, the project will report on cost reduction analysis and manufacturing approach of fuel processor and report on energetic, environmental, economic benefit achievable through FCGEN APU introduction on Mass market.


Expected socio and economic impact

The target of this project is to develop a high efficiency and very low emissions fuel cell based electric power generator and integrate it on-board a truck and demonstrate power generation and utilization from this system. The need of electric power when the vehicle stands still has led to an increasing need for an on-board electric power generator. A fuel cell based APU, with a diesel fuel processor is regarded as one of the most interesting options since it combine high efficiency low emission and the use of the same fuel as the main engine. The on-board generator or Auxiliary Power Unit, APU, should be able to run when the main engine is shut off. The emission from long haulage trucks in the USA has been estimated to about 180 000 tons NOx, 5000 tons PM and 11 million ton CO2 per year. By developing a fuel cell based APU for truck application in Europe, we can compete with the strong on-going initiatives in US supported by Department of Energy, and contribute to:

  • Decarbonisation of transport
  • Ensuring mobility: reliable, safe and secure transport
  • Global competitiveness - growth & jobs
Project reference: 
SP1-JTI-FCH.2010.1.5 Auxiliary Power Units for Transportation Application
Project type: 
Research and technological development
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Saturday, January 1, 2011
End date: 
Sunday, May 31, 2015
36 months (originally), extended to 43 month
Project cost: 
€ 9,309,998
Project funding: 
€ 4,010,884

Insititut Josef Stefan

Boštjan Pregelj
Contact email: 
Other participating organisations: 
Participant no. Participant organisation name Part. short name Country
1 (Coordinator) Institut Jozef Stefan JSI Slovenia
2 Powercell Sweden AB Powercell Sweden
3 Forschungszentrum Juelich GMBH Juelich Germany
4 Volvo Technology AB Volvo Sweden
(5) (Centro Ricerche Fiat SCPA) CRF Italy
6 Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der angewandten Forschunge E.V. ICT-IMM Germany
(6) (Institut fuer Mikrotechnik Mainz GmbH) IMM Germany
7 Johnson Matthey PLC. JM UK
8 Modelon AB Modelon Sweden
Boštjan Pregelj , Darko Vrečko , Janko Petrovčič , Vladimir Jovan , Gregor Dolanc, Applied Energy 01/01/2015, 64-76, "A model-based approach to battery selection for truck onboard fuel cell-based APU in an anti-idling application"
Remzi Can Samsun , Joachim Pasel , Ralf Peters , Detlef Stolten, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 01/05/2015, 6405-6421, "Fuel cell systems with reforming of petroleum-based and synthetic-based diesel and kerosene fuels for APU applications"
J. Meißner , J. Pasel , R.C. Samsun , F. Scharf , C. Wiethege , R. Peters, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 01/03/2014, 4131-4142, "Catalytic burner with internal steam generation for a fuel-cell-based auxiliary power unit for middle distillates"
J. Meißner , J. Pasel , R. C. Samsun , R. Peters , D. Stolten, Fuel Cells 01/02/2015, 15-26, "Start-Up and Load-Change Behavior of a Catalytic Burner for a Fuel-Cell-Based APU for Diesel Fuel"
Joachim Pasel , Remzi Can Samsun , Ralf Peters , Detlef Stolten, Energy and Fuels 15/08/2013, 4386-4394, "Fuel Processing of Diesel and Kerosene for Auxiliary Power Unit Applications"