Saturday, February 04, 2006

Launch of the HYCHAIN Project: 150 hydrogen vehicles to be tested in 4 regions of Europe

The European Union has committed to using 20% alternative fuels by 2020 to address two goals: to reduce its member States’ dependence on fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, coal) and to limit emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, responsible for climate change and some respiratory illnesses.

Using hydrogen as a source of energy is a promising alternative solution. Used in a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, with water as the only emission, and has tremendous potential to provide clean and silent energy.

Today, only several hundred prototype vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel-cells are on the road across the world. In addition to their high cost, their widespread use is also curbed by their restricted operating range and by a limited infrastructure for hydrogen distribution, essentially a few dozen “pilot service stations” where it is possible to “fill up” with hydrogen.

The HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project will allow users in four regions of the European Union to test 150 full size electrically-powered vehicles fuelled by hydrogen fuel cells: scooters, tricycles, wheelchairs, small utility vehicles and minibuses. The initial priority will be fleets belonging to municipal departments in the partner cities (maintenance workers, gardeners, etc.) as well as wheelchairs in use in partnership with some hospitals in the Rhône-Alpes region of France (the greater urban community of Grenoble Alpes Métropole), Emilia Romagna in Italy (city of Modena), Castilla y León in Spain (cities of Soria and León) and Nordrhein Westfalen in Germany (the greater urban community of the Emscher Lippe region). This Project, which will take place over a 5-year timeframe, consists of two phases: 2006 to 2007 will be spent on manufacturing vehicles and developing infrastructure; and from 2008 to 2010, the vehicles will be tested in the four regions under actual conditions.

To fuel these vehicles with hydrogen simply and safely, the HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project will also permit the development of innovative support services: for example, vending machines will make it possible to recharge the vehicle’s hydrogen fuel cell by replacing an empty cylinder of hydrogen with a full cylinder of hydrogen under very high pressure (up to 700 bar) in complete safety thanks to technologies developed and patented by Air Liquide.

The HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project also has an important social component: it aims to promote the development of a new industry in Europe to a well educated public, notably by promoting the rules which will apply in the future to these environmentally friendly technologies.

François Darchis, member of the Executive Committee of Air Liquide, stated: “We are particularly proud to be the general coordinator of this great European project, a world first. Hydrogen as a source of energy is a solution for the future. This project will allow all the partners involved to carry out real-life tests, notably by relying on the hydrogen know-how we have been developing for over 30 years. HYCHAIN-MINITRANS is fully consistent with the sustainable development values at the very core of our business strategy.”

Funded by the Directorate-General Energy and Transport of the European Commission for 17 million euros (out of a total budget of 37.6 million euros), the HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project is a world first. Coordinated by Air Liquide, it comprises a network of 24 European partners : AXANE, BESEL, WIN, Air Liquide Italia, CEA, INERIS, INPG, PAXITECH, ASCOPARG, Air Liquide Espana, CIEMAT, DERBI, RUCKER, CEU, DOMENECH, IBERDROLA, WI, HYDROGENICS, MASTERFLEX, FAST, VEM, DEMOCENTER, Air Liquide Deutschland.


Post a Comment

<< Home