Consortium to convert British Columbia diesel locomotive to hydrogen

Conversion to hydrogen locomotive will cut greenhouse gases and brings clean technologies to the region.

Loop Energy (a hydrogen fuel cell-based solutions provider) and Hydrogen In Motion (H2M) (a solid-state hydrogen storage provider) will collaborate to convert a Southern Railway of British Colombia owned and operated diesel-electric switcher locomotive to hydrogen-electric.

Both partners will use locally developed technology, including Loop Energy’s 50kw eFlow™ fuel cell system and a low-pressure solid-state hydrogen storage tank developed by H2M.

H2M will also work with the University of British Columbia Okanagan School of Engineering (UBCO) and Southern Railway of BC (SRY) to conduct computational modelling of H2M low-pressure tanks. They will also compare the hydrogen-electric powertrain performance characteristics and operational functionality with the previous diesel-electric locomotive. SRY has committed to demonstrating this hydrogen-powered switcher locomotive to prove our viability and demonstrate GHG and other community impacts.

With the successful demonstration of this retrofit, SRY will be able to onboard the rest of their fleet as well as transfer this technology to other rail carriers such as CP and CN rail countrywide. Other heavy-duty operators in trucks and equipment can leverage this knowledge and possibly share infrastructure in intermodal low-pressure hydrogen refuelling nodes.

The project is also partially funded by the Government of British Columbia through the BC Advanced Research and Commercialisation program and the Government of Canada through the MITACS and the Industrial Research Assistance Program at the National Research Council.

Grace Quan, CEO of Hydrogen-in-Motion, said, “This is an exciting phase for the hydrogen fuel cell industry as this proves that it is technically and economically feasible to convert diesel-powered switcher locomotives to hydrogen fuel cell-based power systems.”

George Rubin, CCO of Loop Energy, said, “Combined with Loop Energy’s fuel-efficient and power dense 50kw fuel cell module, we’re delivering a stronger, more efficient locomotive model by harnessing the power of hydrogen and battery electric.”

Shahkar Ali

Shahkar is the regional representative for Asia covering the hydrogen industry for H2 Bulletin. Please click on the email icon to contact him directly via email or follow him on social media.
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