Hydrogen-run commercial vehicles can make a major contribution to the air quality in inner cities and to achieving the climate protection goals. The main challenges for manufacturers lie in the vehicle-specific and application-optimised design of the fuel cell drives.
To improve the configuration of the fuel cells, a research project of the Kempten University of Applied Sciences, the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences as well as ABT e-Line GmbH has now begun that is funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure with around 2.4 million euros.
“The aim of the project ‘cleanEngine’ is to create a development platform that combines virtual and real methods. This will allow the use of fuel cell drives in light commercial vehicles to be configured in a quasi-tailored way”, explains Prof. Dr. Werner E. Mehr from Kempten University of Applied Sciences. The focus is on the dynamic energy optimisation of the hydrogen drive. Relevant here is on the one hand, the operational management of the fuel cell and on the other, scaling effects. Other objectives are the reduction of development costs and time-saving through the application of this development platform.
As consortium leader, the Kempten University of Applied Sciences is being funded with almost 1.2 million euros. Prof. Dr. Mehr leads the team responsible for the development of simulations and the fuel cell test stand, designed for drive capacities of up to 200 kW. The simulations will eventually be capable of forecasting the measurement results determined on the real test stand as accurately as possible.
Analysing scaling effects
At the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, Prof Dr. Birgit Scheppat is working on fuel cell operational management and fuel cell modelling for fuel cells. “In Rüsselheim we are building a model test stand for drive capacities of up to ten kW in order to be able to research interesting questions with regard to scaling effects. The focus here is on system, process and operating parameters”, says Prof. Dr. Scheppat. The funding volume for RheinMain University of Applied Sciences is 687,000 euros.
On the road
The third project partner is ABT e-Line GmbH. The company is developing the control units, control unit communication and is making this available, along with the drive train of the electric VW bus, for measurement purposes at the fuel cell test stand of the Kempten University of Applied Sciences. The optimized fuel cell drive will then be integrated in a VW bus and tested. Initially on a test track, and then with a preliminary approval, it will be tested on public roads under extreme conditions as well. Florian Miller is leading the development team at ABT. ABT is receiving 50% funding in the amount of 500,000 euros.
The ‘cleanEngine’ project will run for three years and will be funded under the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology with a total of 2.4 million euros by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The funding guideline is coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Manager Jülich (Projektträger Jülich (PtJ)).