China’s state railway company has unveiled “Ningdong”, the “world’s most powerful” hydrogen-powered locomotive.

According to China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), the new engine can run for up to 190 hours and takes two hours to refuel its 270kg capacity of liquefied hydrogen.

According to a report by the South China Morning Post, the Ningdong was unveiled in Datong City, Shanxi Province on 15 June 2023.

It has been converted to hydrogen power from a diesel engine locomotive, in a joint effort between the CRRC Changchun Railway Company and Chengdu Rail Transit.

The Ningdong has several security protections to maintain a high level of safety onboard, including intelligent monitoring and a mechanical interlock on the hydrogen fuel cell system.

Fireproof and heat insulation is included on the Ningdong, as well as a fireproof wall to isolate the hydrogen storage from the fuel cells. CRRC also says that the hydrogen fuel cells are made using an “explosion-proof design”.

An independent ventilation system is also installed for the hydrogen storage room on the Ningdong, which will reportedly replace all the air within five minutes.

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“Hydrogen is a clean, renewable energy. The operating costs of hydrogen-powered locomotives are about half those of internal combustion ones,” Liang Zhenzhong, deputy general manager and chief engineer of CRRC Datong, told China’s state-run Science and Technology Daily.

CRRC estimates that hydrogen trains could replace up to 90% of the 7,800 diesel locomotives operating in China, which account for 36% of the country’s fleet.

In May, CRRC announced the development of a hydrogen-powered urban train that the manufacturer says will run as fast as 160km/h with a range of 600km.

Elsewhere in Europe, Hydrogen trains are coming into service, with French Rolling stock Manufacturer Alstom’s Coradia iLint Hydrogen train already in use on the tracks in Sweden and Germany, amongst other countries.