Railway company Canadian Pacific (CP) and manufacturing company Ballard Power Systems (Ballard) have announced that Ballard fuel cell modules will be deployed in CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program.

These modules will supply 1.2MW of electricity for fuelling the locomotive.

The programme aims to develop North America’s first hydrogen-powered line-haul freight locomotive by upgrading a diesel-powered locomotive with Ballard’s hydrogen fuel cells, which will power the locomotive’s electric traction motors via battery technology.

Once operational, CP will carry out rail service trials and a qualification examination to assess the readiness of the technology for the freight-rail segment.

CP president and CEO Keith Creel said: “With this purchase from Ballard, a leader in the hydrogen fuel cell industry, CP further demonstrates its commitment to developing the next generation of locomotive – one that produces zero emissions.

“How we power our trains matters to our customers, employees, shareholders and 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.”

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By GlobalData

This year, CP is expected to receive six of Ballard’s 200kW fuel cell modules while Ballard will also help CP with the module integration into the locomotive.

Ballard president and CEO Randy MacEwen said: “We are excited to be working with CP, an industry leader in the North American rail sector. CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program will develop North America’s first hydrogen and fuel cell-powered line-haul freight locomotive.

“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.”