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Improvement of innovative compression concepts for large scale transport applications


This topic calls for proposals to develop and test at pilot scale an innovative compressor concept for hydrogen refuelling stations that is able to provide large flow rates (50 kg/h or more) at affordable costs and is well adapted for at least one representative transport application (350 bar or 700 bar). The compression concept should include either one of the disruptive technology (e.g. electrochemical or metal hydrides; any other disruptive technologies can be eligible if an appropriate argumentation is provided) or a combination of hybridised compression technologies, including at least one disruptive technology.

Hydrogen should contribute to the integration of renewable energies into the European energy mix. Therefore, the compression concept should be able to use hydrogen from different sources (onsite electrolysis, biogas reforming, hydrogen bottles and pipeline). Consequently, the allowable inlet pressure should be low (preferably in the range of 20 bar, or lower).
The project should contribute to increase the maturity level of at least one disruptive compression technology. In particular, it should enable to:

  • decrease the degradation of the technology down to at least the same level as mechanical compressors;
  • reduce the use of critical raw materials;
  • demonstrate an improvement of the reliability and availability of the HRS;
  • decrease the total costs of ownership of the HRS;
  • improve the efficiency of the hydrogen value chain by decreasing the electricity consumption.

Proposals should plan to assess the overall economic feasibility of the proposed compression concept, addressing operational and installation cost of the system, benchmarking with current HRS systems and including potential impacts on the rest of the station (storage, cooling etc.). The total cost of ownership (TCO) of the compression concept should be calculated, as well as the economic impact of the concept on the overall costs of the hydrogen refuelling station.
In the case of a hybridised system, the project should include modelling of the hybridised compression system in order to demonstrate that the proposed solution represents a techno-economic optimum.
The project should include demonstration of the performance of the compression concept by long term tests (a period of at least 6 months) in a relevant environment, for example a hydrogen refuelling station without public access or an outdoor test facility, at minimum 1/10 of real scale.
TRL start: 3 and TRL end: 5.
The consortium should include component suppliers, component testing entities, hydrogen system integrators or operators. The project should build on the activities and results reached in previous or existing FCH 2 JU projects, such as PHAEDRUS, COSMHYC or H2REF.
Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) dedicated mailbox, which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD.
Test activities should collaborate and use the protocols developed by the JRC Harmonisation Roadmap (see section 3.2.B ""Collaboration with JRC – Rolling Plan 2018""), in order to benchmark performance of components and allow for comparison across different projects.

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution of EUR 2.75 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.
Expected duration: 3 years

Costs associated to the hydrogen refuelling station represent a large share of the overall hydrogen costs in transport applications, with a strong impact on the business models of hydrogen mobility. Large scale refuelling (e.g. hydrogen passenger cars, busses and trucks fleets, rail transport as well as maritime applications) expected in the next years will require hydrogen refuelling stations with capacities of 1 t/day or more, at pressure levels of 350 bar or 700 bar (i.e. 450 bar or 900 bar at the station). CAPEX and OPEX (energy costs + maintenance) of the station can represent 3 €/kg H2 or more. About 50% of these costs are related to the compression, making this component a significant bottleneck for FCV deployments, as also found in fuel cell bus demonstration projects (CHIC, CUTE. HYTRANSIT…). In particular, operational expenditures are critical in the context of large-scale stations. These costs include energy, maintenance, as well as the indirect costs induced when a station is out of order.
Currently available mechanical hydrogen compressors are too costly for large-scale applications and lack the desired durability, efficiency and reliability. This results in high operational and maintenance costs. Lack of reliability of mechanical compressors is due to the large number of moving parts, the challenge of guaranteeing the tightness of high-pressure moving parts, and the lifetime of membranes (~2000 h).
Breakthrough disruptive technologies exist (including electrochemical and metal hydride compressors) and promise significant reduction of total cost of ownership of hydrogen refuelling stations because of the elimination of mechanical compressor disadvantages. However, the maturity of these technologies has to be increased with respect to capacity, durability, lifetime and reliability. None of these technologies has demonstrated until now the ability of providing sufficient flow rates for large-scale applications at reasonable costs. Previous FCH 2 JU funded projects have enabled the development of small prototypes (PHAEDRUS, COSMHYC). However, no large-scale system has been developed to date, as the focus was set on 200 kg/day stations, corresponding to the needs of the market introduction of passenger cars.
Therefore, there is a need for major improvements to meet the criteria of large refuelling stations, both at the scale of the core technology (focus on kinetics and scale effects in selected materials, impact of improved kinetics on life time and performances, architecture of core components) as well as for the system integration (design of entire system, innovative concepts adapted to larger scale, choice of adapted auxiliaries). In addition, the new technologies currently require the use of critical raw materials (such as platinum or rare earths) in most of the developed concepts.

The following KPIs should be reached:

  • Development of a compression concept from low pressure (in the range of 20 bar or less) to 450 bar or 900 bar (deviations are acceptable if justified by the proposed concept), being able to use hydrogen from different sources (onsite electrolysis, biogas reforming, hydrogen bottles and pipeline) and to reach flow rates of at least 4 kg/h and show scalability in order to reach 80 kg/h or more (corresponding to 2t/day or more) on the mid-term. The concept should take into account the change of scale compared to small compressors in the early design phase;
  • Demonstrate perspective for overall investment costs reduced down to < €2000/kg H2/day, reaching < €1000/kg H2/day on the long term for a system of 1t/day or more. Demonstrate the potential for low electricity consumption for large installations (< 4 kWh/kg for a suction pressure similar to current HRS and < 8 kWh/kg for a very low suction pressure, i.e. < 5 bar);
  • Demonstrate maintenance costs of less than 5% of the investment costs per year;
  • Demonstrate availability of more than 95%;
  • If the technologies implemented induce the use of critical raw materials, demonstrate significant improvements in reducing or even avoiding the use of these critical raw materials (including platinum and rare earths, as defined in the MAWP of the FCH 2 JU); Critical raw materials should represent no more than 10% of the total investment costs of the compressor;
  • Demonstrate less than 1% performance decay in 1000 hours of operation;

This topic will contribute to meeting the techno-economic objectives 3 and 5 of the MAWP, by reducing the dependency from critical raw materials as well as the operating and capital costs of the hydrogen infrastructure.
In addition, the project should:

  • Provide recommendations supporting further technology developments, enabling future large scale production of low-costs compression systems for large flow rates;
  • Demonstrate that innovative compression concept does not introduce additional contaminants in the hydrogen so that ISO 14687:2-2012 quality can be fulfilled.

Type of action: Research and Innovation Action
The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 3.3 and in the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018– 2020 which apply mutatis mutandis.