Unibuss orders 183 Solaris articulated electric buses
Geely and Renault partner in South Korea to build hybrid and ICE vehicles

Canadian Pacific orders 8 more Ballard fuel cell modules for expansion of hydrogen locomotive development program

Canadian Pacific is expanding its Hydrogen Locomotive Program from one to three locomotives, with expected delivery in 2022, and has ordered eight additional 200 kW fuel cell modules from Ballard to support the expansion.

Inclusive of Ballard’s announcement in March 2021, the company will provide a total of 14 fuel cell modules, each module with a rated power output of 200 kW, to support this program.

The expansion is partially supported by a 50/50 C$15 million matching grant from Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) as part of its Shovel-Ready Challenge announced late last year. The CP program was selected as one of sixteen emissions reduction projects to receive provincial funding.

In December 2020, CP announced it would design and build North America's first line-haul hydrogen-powered locomotive using fuel cells and batteries to power the locomotive’s electric traction motors.

With the ERA grant, CP is building upon its early program research to convert an additional line-haul locomotive and a yard switcher locomotive. This work will refine the process of converting diesel-electric powertrains to hydrogen-electric powertrains over a series of three categories of locomotive, which collectively represent most locomotives in use throughout North America.

To support hydrogen locomotive operations, the project will include installation of hydrogen production and fueling facilities at CP railyards in Calgary and Edmonton. The Calgary fueling facility will include an electrolysis plant to produce hydrogen from water. This facility will operate on renewable power from solar panels at CP's headquarters campus and produce zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The Edmonton facility includes a small-scale steam methane reformation system that will generate hydrogen from Alberta’s natural gas resources. The system will be constructed to accommodate the possible future addition of greenhouse gas capture equipment.



Will be interesting to see how long this experiment lasts. CP was going to try a fuel cell yard locomotive back in the mid 2000s. Somehow CP's interest waned and BNSF ended up testing the locomotive in 2008. After several months of testing and a number of news announcements, they set it aside and went back to business as usual. Apparently, CP is going to use enough solar power for electrolysis so that they can claim to be green but the rest will come from good old steam reforming of natural gas.

If CP was serious about cutting emissions, I believe that they would be better off running a combination of battery electric locomotives and segments of overhead wire on their heavy line haul routes. Wabtec (used to be GE) is building battery electric locomotives with up to 7 MegaWatt hours of energy.



Fuel cell trains are doing fine in Europe, so it seems at least premature to declare the whole thing a waste of time, and regard batteries as the sole solution.



I believe that most of the fuel cell trains in Europe are relatively low speed commuter trains. These make even less sense than fuel cell heavy haul freight locomotives in North America as they require relatively low power, stop relatively often, and travel relatively short distances. Siemans builds battery electric hybrid trains for this application. https://press.siemens.com/global/en/pressrelease/siemens-mobility-receives-first-order-battery-powered-trains

We will have to see how long CP's interest in fuel cell locomotives last but I would bet that it is relatively short. If you use "green hydrogen", it is expensive in terms of both money and energy. If you use steam reforming of natural gas, you might as well stay with the existing diesel electric and forgo all of the problems of hydrogen.



Whilst I generally have the greatest respect for your knowledgeable contributions, I must in this instance disagree entirely.

The problem arises in my view from 'first principles' à la Musk analysis, in which an view is taken, then any data which arises is assessed and downrated in that light.

The notion that hydrogen is massively energy inefficient is a generalisation, often not applicable to particular cases, although there is a sound basis in that it is often the case that better efficiencies can be obtained by the use of batteries, where they can do the job.

But not only is hydrogen production in a state of rapid development, with far more efficient technologies possible, but it often simply uses otherwise thrown away resources.

So renewables in Europe even now with current relatively low penetration levels are often dumped, for want of economical storage.

On occasion then, hydrogen production of hydrogen is done entirely from current waste.

What is the efficiency of that?

Of course, that is far from always the case, but the blanket claim that hydrogen production is too inefficient to merit consideration is quite false.

The economics of French nuclear production would also be radically improved by the use of surplus for hydrogen production, at minimal extra energy cost and with even lower emissions.

And the engineers developing trains simply do not agree with you.

For instance, those at Siemens:


' Deutsche Bahn and Siemens Mobility are testing a brand-new complete system consisting of a newly developed train and a newly designed filling station. Siemens Mobility is developing the next generation of hydrogen trains that are based on the proven, high-performance Mireo commuter train, which is also used in battery-powered operation. Equipped with a fuel cell drive and a lithium-ion battery, it provides local, emission-free mobility on non-electrified routes.'

There is nothing the matter with battery electric trains, in applications where their performance envelopes fit.
Fuel cell trains are also a fine solution, and the two complement each other.

In my view you have gone firm on a particular technology at best prematurely, which tends to encourage us to be dismissive of data supporting alternatives, as we are all human.

It is very expensive to go firm on particular technologies prematurely, to the detriment of others.



I believe that there are a number of uses for green hydrogen. Certainly to make ammonium for fertilizer. I think that the best way to make hydrogen is with high temperature electrolysis using nuclear power or even high temperature chemical reactions with nuclear power if the temperature is high enough >750 deg C but > 950 deg C is better. However, it would probably be better to use wind or solar power if there is truly nothing else better to do with it.

I am a strong believer in economic drivers. I drive an electric car (Chevy Bolt) and part of the reason is to go green but it makes me feel even better every time I pass a gas station and realize that I am paying about 2.5 cents a mile for electric power.

Anyway there was an article about 2 months ago titled "Researchers show economic, environmental and grid-resilience benefits of converting diesel trains to battery-electric" The environmental and grid resilience are good but the real driver will be economics. They projected that the cost would be about 2/3 of staying with diesel. Now if you could get that with hydrogen fuel cells, OK, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon and the batteries are getting better.


Forgot to add the link to the article:



Good debate, guys.

The comments to this entry are closed.