The HySnowGroomer hydrogen snow groomer concept has been developed on behalf of the Climate and Energy Fund at the HyWest research center at the Green Energy Center Europe in Innsbruck since 2019. The research consortium consists of the companies FEN Sustain Systems GmbH (consortium lead), Kässbohrer Austria GmbH (hydrogen snow groomer), Schmidberger Elektroinstallations GesmbH (hydrogen refueling system), Pongauer Energie Center GmbH (stakeholder management). Associated partner is FEN Research GmbH, which is in charge of system research for integrating the project into a green hydrogen economy.
The HySnowGroomer project aims to develop the world's first prototype of a multifunctional hydrogen snow groomer including a refueling system and an emergency power supply system for alpine crisis situations. This creates another important building block for the greening of winter tourism, as up to 400 liters of diesel or approx. 1,100 kg of CO2 can be saved per vehicle and day. In the event of a crisis, year-round emergency power supply for remote areas and an emergency lift operation can also be made possible.
So far, a “Fuel Cell Electric” (FCE) system for the drive train and the emergency power supply function has been developed in the Kässbohrer project based on the PistenBully 600 E +. The investigation into the feasibility of the system in a prototype vehicle has shown that the availability and usability of fuel cell technology - especially on steep terrain - is initially not a technically or economically viable solution. The Kässbohrer Supervisory Board has therefore made the decision on the basis of the HySnowGroomer research status to pursue the hydrogen reciprocating engine as a bridge technology for the development of the prototype of a hydrogen snow groomer and thus to forego further funding from the Climate and Energy Fund.
The subject of the holistic, multifunctional hydrogen snow groomer concept is also the already completed mobile hydrogen refueling system (mobileHRS) from Schmidberger, with which the snow groomer can be supplied with green hydrogen from the region.
The HySnowGroomer concept is to be recognized in the future as an environmental compensation measure for ski areas, as it enables emission-free and low-noise snow management, a CO2-free creation of snow depots in sensitive natural areas and the avoidance of further expansion of alpine diesel and urea depots and environmentally harmful ones Avoids diesel transports in the exposed mountain areas. The HySnowGroomer project is thus an important building block for the construction of the bridge into a CO2-free and low-noise energy and tourism future and is an essential contribution to securing Austria's system leadership in the field of greening winter tourism.
The HySnowGroomer consortium has taken note of the directional decision by the Kässbohrer Supervisory Board and is currently in the process of coordinating the completion of the funding project on the basis of the existing project results with the program owner of the Climate and Energy Fund and the funding processing agency FFG, as well as the continuation of the project with the hydrogen reciprocating piston Prepare engine technology in the HyWest research environment.
The “Power to Hydrogen” process is required for heavy loads when converting the energy system and the associated construction of the bridge to the green future - which must be free of greenhouse gases, dust and noise. It is the basis for the development of a green hydrogen economy, which is being promoted in the HyWest research center with the Codex partners of the Green Energy Center Europe on a private basis. The present HySnowGroomer concept should in any case be seen as part of this green hydrogen economy.
"This means ending a funded project if it is foreseeable that the entire research goal cannot be achieved. In the present case, the task is, among other things, to ensure that the right hydrogen snow groomers are brought to the right place at the right time, with the right quality and at minimal cost - in other words, affordable for the customer. The hydrogen drive concept with fuel cells could not meet these conditions at the present time and therefore had to give way to the hydrogen reciprocating engine drive concept that was not eligible for funding. The fuel cell concept will be taken up again in the sense of the zero emissions target when fuel cell systems are available, that meet the requirements of heavy snow groomers on steep terrain. In any case, the hydrogen filling station container is a result of the HySnowGroomer project that is already finished and ready for the market. This is a key product for the development of a green hydrogen economy that we operate", says Ernst Fleischhacker, consortium leader, managing director of FEN Sustain Systems GmbH and chairman of the Green Energy Center Europe Codex Partnership.
They say "Kässbohrer has been building the bridge into a green future since 2012. Initially, the PistenBully 600 E + was the first and only snow groomer with a diesel-electric drive - a "green world novelty" - to be launched on the market. Extensive tests with a PistenBully 600 converted to natural gas drive provided us with valuable experience for the development of a hydrogen-powered snow groomer. In 2019, with the PistenBully 100 E, we presented the study of the first 100% electrified snow groomer for cross-country ski runs. The HySnowGroomer project, which deals with the development of a heavy, multifunctional hydrogen snow groomer for snow grooming, was the next logical step in our development strategy. Project result is that hydrogen reciprocating piston engines are a useful source of power for a CO2-free drive in powerful snow groomers in alpine use. In cooperation with the HyWest research center at the Green Energy Center Europe, we are now developing the vehicle hand in hand with the green hydrogen economy that is currently being set up, says Michael Kuhn, head of development at Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG, which is the market leader in the field of snow groomers and special machines Has a subsidiary in Salzburg.
"We were able to meet the specified research goal of developing a refueling system with which we can not only supply snow groomers, but also other hydrogen vehicles such as buses and trucks, on schedule. The system has been further developed into a product and is now on sale by our subsidiary EDC, says Fritz Schmidberger, managing director of Schmidberger Elektroinstallations GesmbH.
"Our role in the project is to oversee the stakeholder process, as part of which we received declarations of cooperation (LOIs) from the relevant cable car companies in Austria. We have set in motion a process through the State of Salzburg so that the HySnowGroomer concept is recognized as an overall environmental compensation measure for ski areas and so that profit margins arise for the more expensive devices of the first series. We have already taken decisive steps in this regard. With our engineering approach, we plan and simulate regional energy communities that use the generation of green hydrogen to store solar power. The application in snow groomers is only the next logical step,
"Green hydrogen from the 'Power to Hydrogen' process is an essential building block for achieving the energy strategy goals and, above all, the objective of the project. It is needed for direct use in a fuel cell system or a hydrogen reciprocating engine and is also the basic material for the production of e-fuels that can be used in existing engine systems. In the project at hand, the use of fuel cell technology was a sub-goal of the research project that could not be achieved under the given circumstances. In any case, the hydrogen reciprocating engine solution is an important bridge component in our understanding of the system, as is the use of e-fuels in the existing vehicle fleet. However, e-fuels have the least effect on target achievement.
"We try to become climate-neutral in winter tourism by all means and are therefore open to technology. For us cable car users, it is important that we get the right hydrogen solution at affordable conditions for clean slope preparation in the foreseeable future. We therefore welcome the significant directional decision by the HySnowGroomer consortium to initially pursue the hydrogen reciprocating engine instead of the fuel cell, says Franz Hörl, chairman of the Austrian Cable Car Association, in the context of an extended consortium meeting with cable car companies at the Green Energy Center Europe in Innsbruck.
"For us, HySnowGroomer is a typical research project, because the results point in a different direction than originally assumed. Now, with Austrian know-how, a directional decision for H2 deployment has been brought about, which is likely to arouse interest around the world. This is how we envision trend-setting, high-risk projects in new fields of technology, says Theresia Vogel, Managing Director of the Climate and Energy Fund."
Program management & program management
- Climate and Energy Fund
- Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)
- FEN Sustain Systems GmbH, Technikerstraße 1-3 Innsbruck
- Green Energy Center Europe
- PEZ Pongauer Energie Zentrum GmbH
- Kässbohrer Austria GmbH
- Schmidberger Elektroinstallations GesmbH