Driven by the demand for optimised aircraft performances, reduced operating and maintenance costs, increased dispatch reliability, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and quieter aircrafts, and the rapid growth of air traffic for the coming years, both commercial aircraft industry and general aviation are respectively pushing towards the concept of more electric aircraft (MEA) for which electricity is initially used for non-propulsive systems, and for an all-electric aircraft. As highly efficient power generation systems, fuel cell systems can play an important role in the development of the MEA concept.
Target applications range from cabin/hotel loads (5-20 kW), to emergency power units (15-50 kW), Auxiliary Power Units (superior to 50 kW) or regarding general aviation to the light aircraft propulsion systems (> 40 kW). Besides commercial aircraft industry and general aviation, electrical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have also shown interest for fuel cell technology as a key means to offer an improved endurance and range mission capability. Previous (Boeing 2008, DLR A320 ATRA 2011, Antares DLR 2009 and 2012, FCH-JU SUAV 2011) and current (FCH JU funded HYCARUS) projects have demonstrated and confirmed the potential of fuel cell technology to match aircraft needs and have helped identify main remaining challenges and bottlenecks.
Main challenges for fuel cell based energy generation systems for the aircraft industry include the fuel cell system weight and volume, the required extended lifetime and reliability to comply with aircraft operation and maintenance schedules, the ability of the technology to demonstrate compliance with the specific aerospace airworthiness certification requirements (essentially related to safety considerations) , the cost effectiveness of the corresponding fuel cell system designs and their full integration into the aircraft.
The objective of the project is the design, development and demonstration under realistic operating conditions (TRL5-6) of an autonomous electric power generation system for non-intrusive applications for auxiliary or emergency power generation.
The consortium should be established to gather required competences and background knowledge to address the above mentioned challenges and the following key objectives:
Throughout the project, particular attention should be given to meet the best achievable trade-off between performance, lifetime, reliability, maintainability and system power density. Safety is hereby to be maintained at the required level. Project activities may enable even higher safety levels.
Proposals are also encouraged to consider preparation of flight test demonstrations to be conducted after completion of the project, in order to reinforce demonstration value and representativeness and better prepare for future commercialisation of the technology within the 2025 time frame.
The consortium should include at least one aircraft OEM or one Tier 1 aircraft industry OEM.
The TRL at the start of the project should be 3-4 and the project should aim to reach a TRL of 5-6 at completion.
Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD (dedicated mailbox JRC-PTT-H2SAFETY@ec.europa.eu).
The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow the specific challenges to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Expected duration: 3-4 years