|The HYCHAIN-MINITRANS regions|
The European HYCHAIN-MINITRANS project for the test deployment of a fleet of about 150 hydrogen fuel-cell-based, low-powered public transport vehicles, such as wheelchairs, scooters, tricycles, small utility vehicles and minibuses, kicked off yesterday.
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.
The project, sponsored by the European Commission, represents the first of its kind for broader-scale testing of hydrogen-fueled transportation in these types of “mini” applications.
The general objectives of the project are:
To introduce in four European Regions (in France, Spain, Germany and Italy) low power (up to 10kW) fuel-cell captive fleets in selected early market niches for transport to enhance public awareness and acceptance.
To demonstrate a significant number of common fuel cell power modules coming from four European fuel cell manufacturers in transport applications, to achieve a minimum critical mass for early industrialization, thereby gaining a significant reduction of costs.
To set up a micro-infrastructure for hydrogen refueling including logistics, maintenance services, monitoring, training.
To address cross-cutting actions such as regulations & standards, costs issues, environmental impact, safety, policy encourage, etc.
The project will last five years, and consists of two phases. The first, from 2006 to 2007, will focus on manufacturing vehicles and developing infrastructure; the second, from 2008 to 2010, will test the vehicles will be tested in the four regions under actual conditions.
The European Community regions strongly supporting the project are North Rhine Westphalia (Germany), Emilia Romagna (Italy), Castilla y Leon (Spain) and Rhône Alpes (France).
The Directorate-General Energy and Transport of the European Commission is providing €17 million (US$20.5 million) out of a total budget of €37.6 million for HYCHAIN-MINITRANS.
Coordinated by Air Liquide, the project comprises 24 other European partners.