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.
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.
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
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
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%.