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Air filter monitoring technology sought for fuel cell powered container handling trucks by multinational company




A multinational enterprise has started using fuel cells in their electrified container handlers. Air quality is a key factor for the performance and lifetime of fuel cells. Therefore the company is looking for partners to develop low cost air filter monitoring technology enabling predictive filter maintenance. It aims to set up a cooperative pilot project to realize a prototype within the framework of a technical cooperation agreement. This request is part of an open innovation challenge.



A Dutch division of a global operating multinational company that designs, engineers, manufactures, sells and services a comprehensive line of lift trucks and aftermarket parts meeting specific material handling needs of different customers. The company has development centers and production sites across the world, including several sites in Europe. The development center responsible for big truck design is based in The Netherlands.

The company is dedicated to create solutions that enable their customers to improve overall efficiency and effectiveness of their businesses and meet their environmental regulations
to reduce the effects on climate change. Harbors and ports set strict regulations when it comes to emission of greenhouse gasses and electrification of logistical vehicles is a substantial way to reduce them. As the energy consumption of big trucks in operations is quite demanding, use of fuel cells in electrified power trains is desirable to support the continuous operations of their customers.

To generate electrical power from hydrogen, a fuel cell needs oxygen. The quality of air flowing into a fuel cell however affects its performance and lifetime significantly. And fuel cells are not only sensitive to dust particles, but also to chemicals. In addition, every application is different and environmental factors change constantly.

Utilizing off the shelf air filters without diagnostic capability could lead to damage of fuel cell stacks. There does not exist another way to notify operators that a filter is clogged and can no longer filter until stack performance has dropped to a level where a fault is reported. And this fault level could be when severity of damage caused by contamination is non-recoverable. On the other hand replacing the filters on a regular base would lead to higher maintenance costs.

Hence the company is looking for partners to develop an air filter monitoring system that enables a more effective use of air filters for fuel cells in heavy duty applications. The focus of the monitoring system is on filtration of chemicals and status of the filter with respect to remaining chemical capability. Chemicals comprise of different organic and inorganic gasses that are dissolved in the air. In addition, the air filter monitoring system should have the capability to indicate the need of replacement using monitored data, such that maintenance can be planned in advance, hence, contributing to overall operational and service cost optimization.
Within this challenge, monitoring technology development is not bound to the use of specific air filter material elements or design. If required the air filter material or design can be changed/optimized or started from scratch.

The end product should fit in the cost structure of container handling trucks. The final monitoring system is expected to give a clear business advantage over the current situation without a monitoring system. Within the framework of a technical cooperation agreement, the selected company is expected to propose and execute a project to realize a prototype demonstrating design set up and cost of such an air filter monitoring system.

IMPORTANT: This technology request refers to an innovation challenge published on an open internet platform. If an organization expresses interest before the closing date, it will be guided to this open innovation platform. After registration participants can browse free through other submissions and engage in discussions. All submissions will get feedback by the company on this open platform. The challenge closes on October 2nd, 2020. Mind that posts on this platform are not confidential. Besides open discussions on the platform, sharing of confidential information will be made possible on demand. After that, the firm will select the organizations that will be invited to discuss cooperation possibilities. Once the challenge is closed, expressions of interest will be treated in the traditional way.

Partner expertise sought:

- Type of partner sought: Partners are invited to contribute to a creative open innovation process and further technical development in order to enable the sustainable use of fuel cells under varying heavy duty conditions.
Specific expertise is sought in the field of: particulate and chemical filtration solutions, sensor integration and software development, design and integration, data analytics and creative thinking.
A team of highly specialized experts and advisors from different disciplines is needed to fulfil this technological challenge.
- Specific area of activity of the partner: Type of partner: company or combination of companies, university or research organizations.

Area of activity: development, (applied) research, IT technology, knowledge of particulate and chemical filtration solutions
Sensor integration and software development
Design and integration
Data analytics
Creative thinking

Task to be performed: set up and execute a project to realize a prototype to demonstrate design set up and cost of such an air filter monitoring system with the focus on chemical pollution.


Other - Since, this technology request is an innovation challenge and is published on an open innovation platform all types of IPR Status can be considered.

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Technical cooperation agreement


Industrial Manufacture \ Energy \ Transport & Logistics \ Aeronautics and Space \ Measurement, Testing & Standards \ Physical Sciences \ TechUK Single Mapping, August 2014
INDUSTRIAL MANUFACTURING, MATERIAL AND TRANSPORT / Traffic, mobility / Engineering / ENERGY / Energy production, transmission and conversion / Fuel cells / PHYSICAL AND EXACT SCIENCES / Separation Technologies / Filtration and Membrane Processes / MEASUREMENTS AND STANDARDS / Measurement Tools / Sensor Technology related to measurements
Manufacture of other transport equipment n.e.c.
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS / Industrial Equipment and Machinery / Hoists, cranes and conveyors / INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS / Industrial Equipment and Machinery / Industrial trucks and tractors / INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS / Industrial Equipment and Machinery / Power transmission equipment (including generators & motors)


Contact Enterprise Europe Network Scotland by email at, quoting reference number TRNL20200813001