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Alternative Propulsion Systems and Fuels



Alternative Propulsion Systems and Fuels

Background & policy context: 

The Austrian impulse programme A3plus is striving to make the transport of the future significantly more energy-efficient and more environmentally friendly by promoting research and development in the field of innovative propulsion technologies and alternative fuels.
Ground-breaking key innovations should trigger technological leaps paving the way to entirely new propulsion concepts with previously unachievable levels of consumption and emissions for surface transport.

The transport of the future must be not only more environmentally friendly, but also significantly more energy-efficient. Bio-fuels and natural gas in gaseous, liquid and liquefied form are increasingly gaining market shares. This requires new propulsion concepts, which need to exhibit previously unattained levels of consumption and emissions. Alternative combustion concepts and fuels will gradually replace the current combinations of Otto or Diesel engines with conventional petrol and diesel fuels. The successes of hybrid vehicles in the recent past will significantly accelerate the development of drive systems with combinations of several different energy converters and storage media. In the longer term, combustion-free drive systems such as electric engines and fuel cells will achieve even greater reductions in energy consumption and emissions of pollutants and noise. The required conversion of the entire power chain to electric components (which is already emerging in hybrid vehicles) is facilitated through considerable advances in battery technology. According to the scenarios set out by the automotive industry, in the future a sustainable production of hydrogen will be achieved either from methane, by means of biomass recycling, or by using electrolysis of water with electricity from renewable energy sources. Before this point is reached, however, a series of technological barriers still need to be overcome. For that reason, the A3plus programme line is focusing on the area of alternative propulsion systems and fuels. Beyond the automotive sector, the programme is also aiming at alternative propulsion systems for rail transport and inland waterway transport.

Strategic Objectives: 

The A3plus programme line is intended to support cooperative research proposals involving industrial, university and non-university research across the entire R&D cycle, in order to strengthen the innovation capability and competitiveness of the Austrian industry in the field of propulsion technology. On top of this, the promotion of technological innovations is meant to deliver a contribution for increasing the social and ecological sustainability of surface transport. Technology and knowledge transfer operating across the different transport modes is intended to strengthen the development of interdisciplinary know-how in the field of alternative propulsion technologies in Austria. Supplementing the European research programmes and harmonising with the European Commission’s transport and energy policy, system solutions and genuine advances in technology are to be supported in the Austrian engine-construction and automotive supplier industries. This also contributes to meeting the Austrian Federal Government’s targets regarding the future use of alternative fuels and propulsion systems in the transport sector.

Programme organisation: 

Calls for proposals for research projects are scheduled annually over the time-frame of the IV2Splus programme. In addition, strategic lighthouse projects are to support the demonstration and implementation of larger-scale proposals in the field of alternative propulsion systems and fuels – including the infrastructure facilities required for this – involving developers, producers, downstream operators and future users.


Alternative propulsion systems and their components

Scope: drive systems/drive trains for road transport, rail transport and inland waterway transport, including electronic management of such drives

Examples: highly-specialised monovalent or highly-flexible multivalent combustion engines with alternative combustion processes and fuels or in innovative hybrid solutions, electric motors, fuel cells

Objectives: increasing motor efficiency/energy efficiency (including energy recuperation), reduction in energy consumption/emissions

Alternative fuels

Scope: liquid and gaseous (bio-)fuels or fuel combinations

Examples: hydrogen, methane, methanol/ethanol, DME (dimethyl ether), synthetic fuels

Objectives: high energy density, sustainability/energy efficiency in production, security of supply, environmental friendliness, compatibility with existing distribution infrastructures

Innovative storage concepts

Scope: tanks for liquids and gases, electrical storage

Examples: high-pressure storage tanks, cryotanks, metal hydrides, ionic fluids, accumulators, high-performance condensers

Objectives: high specific storage density, low storage/conversion losses, capacity for rapid energy uptake and supply, safety

Development and support for the necessary supply infrastructures for refuelling and operating alternative propulsion systems

Examples: hydrogen / bio-fuel / natural-gas / liquefied gas stations, distribution networks, on-site synthesis

Objectives: development costs, ability to use existing distribution networks, flexible use for various alternative energy modes, safety, operational cost-efficiency

Concepts for embedding alternative drive trains in overall vehicle design

Scope: optimising the spatial arrangement of alternative drive systems

Objectives: reduction in weight/volume/energy consumption

Leading Institutions:

Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT)

Type of funding:
Programme funding arrangements and funding conditions: 

Funding is provided for universities, non-university institutes, industrial institutes, vehicle technologies companies, competence centres, industry clusters and association. (National institutions and foreign organisations are welcome to participate, but are not eligible to receive national funding.)

The programme comprises yearly calls within the programme duration. The first call 2007 has an overall budget of €7 million (including large lighthouse projects). Funding rates account for 75% - 25%, subject to technology readiness level / marketability, company size and structure of the consortium. Basic studies are financed up to 100%.

Participating countries: 
Number of projects:
Projects covered: 

There were 5 Calls, each containing about 9 to 18 projects.

Project Profiles:
  1. Active and stable platinum-transition metal catalysts for oxygen reduction at high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs)
  2. Advanced 3D Fuel Cell Analysis and Condition Diagnostics
  3. Alternative Fuels and environmentally friendly driving systems in regional public transport
  4. Basics of an Austrian road map for the large scale introduction of electric vehicles
  5. Butanol from biogenic wastes
  6. Comparison of hybrid drive systems using real-world validated simulation models
  7. Development of scenarios for the spread of electric cars under consideration of different political conditions
  8. Energy-efficient concepts and technologies for lacquer-based heating systems in electric vehicles
  9. High proportion of biogenic components in diesel fuel
  10. Highest efficiency thanks to innovative fuel- and lubricant technologies
  11. Increasing safety and capacity of lithium-ion cells for electromobility
  12. Li-Battery Housing for Safety Application
  13. Modeling, emulation and management of highly complex traction batteries
  14. New materials for the rechargeable zinc-air battery
  15. NExBTL and Fischer-Tropsch-diesel – intelligent diesel fuel alternatives: Assessment of emissions and potentials for new combustion processes
  16. Next generation e-charging
  17. Numerical optimization of biogas combustion in marine engines
  18. Numerical optimization of combustion engines in serial hybrid drives
  19. Oxygenates as new biogenic components in diesel fuel
  20. Paradigm change in propulsion technology
  21. Potentials of efficient powertrains for trucks and their contribution towards a sustainable road freight transport in 2050
  22. Production of biogenic hydrogen through algae cultivation
  23. Secure integration of electrical energy storage devices in the motorcycle at accidents and in daily use
  24. SOFC APU systems development 1
  25. Systemic Analysis for Hybrid Vehicles
  26. Thermoelectric Module for Waste Heat Recovery
Contact Name: 
Christian Drakulic
Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT)
Renngasse 5
Contact country:
(+43) 1 711 62 653 212