VIRTUAL & physical platform for Fuel Cell System development

Fuel cells convert the chemical energy of hydrogen and other chemicals into electricity cleanly and efficiently. They are poised to make a significant contribution to our transition from fossil fuels to more environmentally friendly sources of energy. Technologies have advanced tremendously over the last decades, yet their potential can only be fully realised by their actual use in specific applications. Widespread adoption requires seamless integration into devices and systems, often by companies without the experience or confidence to do so. The EU-funded VIRTUAL-FCS project will develop an open-source software-hardware tool that can be adopted as a global standard for targeted fuel cell system design and integration for the transport sector.


Fuel cells have promise in transport applications ranging from busses to ocean ships where they are competing will other well-established technologies. As a complicated and disruptive technology, fuel cells require specialised knowledge to integrate into devices and systems. This is a huge barrier to fuel cell use in companies that don't have existing experience with, or confidence in fuel cell technologies. The FC community needs to help system integrators develop and optimise fuel cell battery hybrid systems for varied applications.

The overall vision of this project is to develop a fully open source software-hardware (cyber-physical) tool that can be adopted as a global standard for FC system design. This platform will enable a system integrator at an SME, with limited fuel cell experience, to rapidly design a fuel cell battery hybrid powertrain for their specific application. The platform will make this development as quick as for combustion or battery powertrains and give the integrator confidence that the system will meet their performance, reliability and durability requirements.

This project will bring together a group of experienced fuel cell specialists to develop this platform (SINTEF, BALLARD and UBFC) along with several system integrators or end users of fuel cells who are leading organisations in their specific field, WESTCON (Maritime), BANKE (Heavy Duty Vehicles), VIVARAIL (Rail), SOLARIS (Busses).

More information about the project can be found at the project website.