The European Union has committed to using 20% alternative fuels by 2020 to address two goals.

Air Liquide explain that the goals include reducing its member States\\$quot; dependence on fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, coal) and limiting emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, responsible for climate change and some respiratory illnesses.

Using hydrogen as a source of energy is a promising alternative solution. Used in a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, with water as the only emission, and has tremendous potential to provide clean and silent energy.

The HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project will allow users in four regions of the European Union to test 150 full size electrically-powered vehicles fuelled by hydrogen fuel cells: scooters, tricycles, wheelchairs, small utility vehicles and minibuses. The initial priority will be fleets belonging to municipal departments in the partner cities (maintenance workers, gardeners, etc.) as well as wheelchairs in use in partnership with some hospitals.

The HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project is a world first

This Project, which will take place over a 5-year timeframe, consists of two phases: 2006 to 2007 will be spent on manufacturing vehicles and developing infrastructure; and from 2008 to 2010, the vehicles will be tested in the four regions under actual conditions.

HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project will permit the development of innovative support services. And the project also has an important social component: it aims to promote the development of a new industry in Europe to a well educated public, notably by promoting the rules which will apply in the future to these environmentally friendly technologies.

François Darchis, member of the Executive Committee of Air Liquide, stated: \\$quot;We are particularly proud to be the general coordinator of this great European project, a world first. Hydrogen as a source of energy is a solution for the future. This project will allow all the partners involved to carry out real-life tests, notably by relying on the hydrogen know-how we have been developing for over 30 years. HYCHAIN-MINITRANS is fully consistent with the sustainable development values at the very core of our business strategy.\\$quot;

The HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project is a world first. Coordinated by Air Liquide, it comprises a network of 24 European partners.