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Hydrogen transport

Symbio and CEA are joining forces to accelerate the industrialisation of competitive hydrogen fuel cell systems on a world scale.

While Europe and certain Asian countries are announcing ambitious hydrogen plans, Symbio – a hydrogen fuel cell systems supplier and subsidiary of Michelin and Faurecia – and CEA, committed to the research and development of hydrogen technologies, are
strengthening their historic relationship by signing a framework collaboration agreement. Aim: to accelerate the industrialisation of competitive hydrogen fuel cell systems on a world scale for
the energy transition of transport.
Published on 10 July 2020
While Europe has just published its strategy to optimise the contribution of hydrogen to the energy transition, the race is already on across the world to strengthen the competitiveness of companies in the sector: China has announced a $16 billion hydrogen plan, and Korea plans to produce almost 3 million vehicles in 2040, for example. Now more than ever, cooperation between research and industry is essential to consolidate the competitiveness of French and European companies to optimise the costs of producing innovative systems and boost the volume.

From the first licensing agreement to a common industrialisation strategy
Symbio and the CEA have been working together for over 10 years: the company's original technology is based on an initial licensing and R&D cooperation agreement. With this framework agreement, both organisations are broadening the scope of this collaboration, in step with market development: the R&D teams will be working together to accelerate the industrialisation of hydrogen fuel cell systems for transport that are less costly, more efficient and easier to integrate into vehicles. The development of these turnkey hydrogen fuel cell systems will cover, in particular: characterisation of key components and Stack developments1, assembly of the membrane electrode, durability, modelling to optimise
hydrogen batteries and their integration into vehicles. 

"With this framework agreement, we are adding new impetus to the collaboration that we have had with CEA for 10 years – which has enabled us, together, to make the first steps towards becoming the supplier that we are today," explained Fabio Ferrari, CEO of Symbio. "Now more than ever, we are convinced that close collaboration between research and industry is a key factor for achieving success on the world stage."

"Industry-based hydrogen technologies are playing a major role in the energy transition and are at the heart of our strategy. This is an important moment for our research teams to see their industry-orientated approach come into practice", confirms Florence Lambert, Director of CEA-Liten.

CEA-Liten's site in Grenoble will host upstream developments linked to components, by researching materials and architectures that offer the best performance/durability ratios up to the proof of concept stage. Symbio's site will host the test and qualification benches, right up to the industrial line itself. 

Supporting the development of the French and European sector
Through this collaboration, Symbio and CEA would like to contribute to the rapid structuring of the industrial sector in France and Europe, in line with the Call for Expression of Interest launched by the French government in January 2020. This is also about the eventual creation of local jobs, as many stakeholders in the hydrogen sector are already established in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region, where public-private solutions have already proved effective, such as Europe's most ambitious hydrogen transport project, "Zero Emission Valley" (creation of 20 charging stations and funding for a fleet of 1,000 vehicles).

1 The Stack is defined as the assembly of several cells in a series or in parallel, making it possible to obtain different voltages and powers.

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