The European Union's White Book Mobility 2001 states that the European rail system has to achieve the following objectives before 2020:
- 50 % gain in energy efficiency;
- 50 % reduction in emissions of pollutants;
- For rail to increase its market share of passenger traffic from 6 to 10 % and of goods traffic from 8 to 15 %.
One of the conclusions in the White Book is that the train sector needs a veritable 'cultural revolution' to remain one of the leading players in the transport system in the enlarged Europe. The HyRail projects comes to the conclusion that hydrogen powered fuel cell hybrid trains have the potential to help the railways in EU in achieving these targets.
The final goal was to strengthen European Rail actors' collaboration, rendering it more effective as well as corresponding to their major interests, showing in conclusion possible applicability areas of hydrogen in railway sector.
The major problems to be solved:
- H2 storage technology, or reformer solution (with on board CO2 generation, that is carbon sequestration is no more possible);
- reliability of the FC generator that must be largely improved to be use in railway applications;
- electrical storage system must be associated with FC generator; the first research effort might be on these technologies with the concept of hybrid architecture.
The project was generally carried out through the structured work packages (WPs), as follows:
- WP 0 - Project management. The smooth progress of the activities was controlled by the coordinator and fixed in an agreed Gantt diagram. The circulation of all pieces of information was ensured by the UIC extra-net. All information was regularly updated and accessible for all consortium partners as well as the EC and associated partners.
- WP 1 - Workshop organisation. The city of Bergamo in Northern Italy was the venue for UIC hosting the first HYRAIL workshop on 27 June 2007. The workshop's intention was to demonstrate and discuss the state of the art of the hydrogen and fuel cell's technology. One outcome of the workshop was the common opinion that the hydrogen and fuel cells propulsion should be further examined for the propulsion of shunting locomotives.
- WP 2 - Position paper development. The position paper included general information about needs for alternative propulsion, modes of alternative propulsion, an abstract of the state of the art, first thoughts about RU's and IM's issues and a vague vision about the implementation of the hydrogen and fuel cells propulsion for the European rail sector. It was conceived as the wrap-up off the Bergamo workshop send in combination with all workshop presentations to all major European RU and IM as well as interested stakeholders.
- WP 3 - Dissemination and exploitation. The dissemination activity was carried out at European and world wide level through the HYRAIL website, found at: www.hyrail.eu and through regular mailings. The final paper comprised the position paper and the state of the art document and gives and overview about the state of the art of hydrogen and fuel cells propulsion, the specific needs from railway undertakings and infrastructure managers and provides the vision for the implementation of fuel cells in the European rail sector.
HyRAIL made an assessment of the state of the art of technologies available and R&D activities and projects on hydrogen and fuel cell, drawing possible scenarios of transport system and energy supply related to railways. Gaps and technological innovations were identified and proposal put forward to solve fragmentation and to remove bottlenecks. HyRAIL provided a 'vision' and drew up a position paper for its implementation in European Railways for the medium long term.
Particular attention was paid to identify user's needs and industrial suppliers, especially for SME, as well as cost and benefits, energetic and environmental issues were taken into account.
Areas of business and sustainable use of energy and resources were investigated.
The results of discussions would strengthen and update the vision, the deployment strategy (DS) and the strategic research agenda (SRA) of EU Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Platform (HFP), as basis for further projects to be set up as response to next call series of FP7.