Fuel Cells have huge potential as a future energy conversion technology as they display high conversion efficiencies, are significantly less polluting than traditional energy systems and have the potential for fuel flexibility in a vast variety of applications including stationary and transportation. In transportation, the emphasis lies on hydrogen fuel cells, which are expected to become more viable alternatives to present drive train technologies. In stationary applications, also non-hydrogen fuel cells are of increased interest due to their high conversion efficiencies and non-exclusive dependence on hydrogen as energy carrier; thereby such fuel cells have potential for low-carbon power generation. This is anticipated in the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan and the Implementation Plan of the European Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Technology Platform.

The importance of fuel cell technology for EU society, in terms of addressing climate change, security of energy supply and competitiveness, has been recognised by a wide range of stakeholders, including major industries, through the setup of a new kind of public-private partnership, the Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) on fuel cells and hydrogen.

The Action positions itself so as to contribute, under the auspices of the JTI, to the cost-effective deployment of fuel cell technologies. In this context, it carries out performance verification and integration of fuel cell power chain energy conversion systems and technologies to benefit policy makers, standardization bodies and EU industry and academia. The Action also contributes to the development and the validation of harmonised test methods and protocols in support of standardisation activities at European and international level, e.g. International Standardization Organization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 197 and the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) TC 105. The very role of the JRC, an independent and impartial organization, assures such contribution is unbiased from national interests and jointly channelled on behalf of all European stakeholders into the standardization process. Building upon the existent test facilities the Action progressively establishes a centre for pre-normative research (PNR) on the fuel cell power chain energy conversion systems and technologies.

Further, the Action is well positioned within the fuel cell research community by collaboration in a number of EU funded projects such as FCAnode, FCTESQA, NanoCoFC, DECODE and FCTEDI. It acts, except for NanoCoFC, as scientific coordinator in the projects. Two projects, FCTESQA and FCTEDI, are recognised by the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE) which the Commission joint in November 2003.

Summary of the project programme

The Action performs experimental campaigns for the critical assessment of the performance of fuel cell systems particularly in terms of efficiency and emissions and on the integration of fuel cells into the power chain using the test facilities of the Institute as framed within the EU projects FCTESQA and DECODE.

A second focus of the Action is on the validation and the benchmarking of harmonized test methods and protocols on performance of fuel cells in transport and stationary applications as input to standards drafted by the ISO TC 197 and IEC TC105.

The results of PNR specifically of testing, validation and assessment are disseminated to EU policy makers, regulators and standardization bodies. The dissemination of the results is done through networking conducted in the context of the JTI and internationally within IPHE and the International Energy Agency � Implementation Agreement Advanced Fuel Cells (IEA IA AFC) while framed within the EU project FCTEDI.

Selected research is performed to underpin the test results and the assessment of the fuel cell power chain by means of mathematical modelling & simulations, experimental validation of the models and through investigating newly developed non-noble fuel cell metallic PEFC catalysts. These activities are framed within the EU projects FCAnode and DECODE, and the Integrated Clean Coal High Temperature Fuel Cell (HTFC) exploratory research project.

The progression on the establishment of a PNR centre includes the transformation of the existent test facilities towards testing and validation of the non-hydrogen fuel cell power chain. This option will provide the possibility to study alternatives to hydrogen as energy carriers arising from selected low carbon energy conversion systems. It aims to complement and integrate the DG TREN activities on clean coal energy conversion technologies with respect to HTFC.

The Action supports, in addition, the JRC Enlargement & Integration (E&I) Action and the implementation of the European Research Area (ERA) for energy by organizing expert workshops and by providing training and access to the test facilities of the Institute to European researchers.

For further information please email to Georgios Tsotridis.