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The Centre for Technological Innovation in Static Converters and Drives (CITCEA) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech (UPC) is participating in the COVHE project, whose aim is to develop an electrical drive system for heavy vehicles based on a hydrogen cell.

The hydrogen vector will be one of the energy vectors of the future. Due to its characteristics, it is one of the candidates to complement batteries in electrical drive systems for heavy vehicles. In addition, it is a modular, scalable system that can be adapted to different designs. However, this drive system should be designed to be as efficient, small and light as possible.

To meet these requirements, in the COVHE project, latest-generation semiconductors are used based on new wideband materials such as silicon carbide, and tools for control and optimisation to work on the entire drive chain (engine and inverter) at the point of maximum efficiency. This requires the development of new control strategies, implemented in real time.

This is an interdisciplinary proposal that includes both the electronic design of the new system and the programming of firmware in microprocessors, incorporating new mathematical algorithms for control and optimisation.

Results and impact

A company is involved in this project that aims to innovate in its products by offering solutions to install new engines in fleets of lorries. It is a particularly strategic project, given that this company, whose activity is currently focused on conversions to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), is positioning itself as a future Catalan original equipment manufacturer in the sector of heavy vehicles for the transport of people and goods.

The results of this project can be extrapolated to any other application with a drive engine (planes, ships and the rail sector) or the generation of electrical energy with rotating machinery (wind, hydraulic). In addition, indirectly, the algorithms and technologies that are developed can be applied in any technology that requires power electronics and their control.

Budget and funding

The COVHE project has a budget of 94,240 euros for CITCEA-UPC and is in the execution phase, in collaboration with a Catalan original equipment manufacturer. The project is expected to be completed at the start of 2024.


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