Ballard Power Systems announced that Canadian Pacific would employ Ballard fuel cell modules for its Hydrogen Locomotive Program. The HLP aims to develop North America’s first hydrogen-powered line-haul freight locomotive by retrofitting a diesel locomotive with fuel cells.
The Ballard fuel cell modules will provide a total of 1.2 megawatts of electricity to power the locomotive and work with battery technology to power the electric traction motors. Once the concept vehicle is operational, Canadian Pacific plans to conduct rail service trials and qualification testing to evaluate the technology’s readiness for the freight-rail sector.
Ballard plans to deliver six of its 200-kilowatt fuel cell modules to Canadian Pacific in 2021 and will provide support to integrate the modules into the locomotive.
“We are excited to be working with Canadian Pacific, an industry leader in the North American rail sector. Canadian Pacific’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program will develop North America’s first hydrogen and fuel cell-powered line-haul freight locomotive,” said Randy MacEwen, Ballard President and CEO. “In addition to Ballard’s work focused on powering commuter trains in Europe and urban trams in China, CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program in North America underscores the strong fit for zero-emission fuel cells to power heavy- and medium-duty motive applications, including trains, for which it is otherwise difficult to abate emissions.”
Canadian Pacific President and CEO Keith Creel further underlined the need for alternative power systems in logistics: “How we power our trains matters to our customers, employees, shareholders and to the communities we operate in. This technology holds the possibility of eliminating emissions from freight train operations, which already represent the most efficient method of moving goods over land.”
A similar project has been underway in Europe for some time. In cooperation with Eversholt Rail, the French group Alstom presented the design of a new hydrogen train for the British market in 2019. The hydrogen train, which was developed under the code name Breeze, is also converting an existing diesel train. The Breeze trains passed their tests and will enter production so that the first hydrogen trains will be operational around 2024.
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