Canadian Pacific’s hydrogen fuel cell locomotive to debut before year-end

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A rendering of the Canadian Pacific’s hydrogen fuel cell locomotive. CEO Keith Creel said the engine will debut before the end of the year. (Canadian Pacific)

NEW YORK – Canadian Pacific Railway’s first hydrogen fuel cell locomotive, a converted SD40-2F dubbed the H2 0EL for “zero-emission hydrogen locomotive,” will run on its own by year-end, then enter in trial service next year, CEO Keith told Creel.

CP’s home-built locomotive test bed, along with its head office solar panel and other sustainability efforts, were recognized this month at the United Nations COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. , Creel said at RailTrends 2021 on November 18.

“I think it could be a motor for industry,” Creel said of the hydrogen project, the first to use fuel cells and batteries to power the electric traction motors of a freight locomotive. .

But Creel emphasizes that this is an experiment. “And again, that may not work. But I think it’s the right thing to do, ”Creel says. “We’re not betting the farm on this, for lack of a better term.”

The $ 15 million CP is investing in the project was complemented this month by a grant from Emissions Reduction Alberta, which will fund the conversion of a switch and a high-power unit. Also included in the grant: funding for hydrogen production and refueling facilities at CP yards in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta [see “CP to build additional hydrogen locomotives …,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 1, 2021]. Emissions Reduction Alberta has posted this video about the project.

The Calgary facility will include an electrolysis plant to produce hydrogen from water, with electricity supplied by CP’s solar panel. The Edmonton plant will feature a small-scale steam methane reforming system that extracts hydrogen from natural gas produced in the energy-rich province. The facility will be built to accommodate equipment capable of capturing greenhouse gases.

CP’s hydrogen locomotive project is the brainchild of Kyle Mulligan, the railway’s chief engineer.

Creel says he was on an inspection trip last year when “talented Dr. Mulligan” introduced the concept. “He said, ‘I have an idea. I believe I can connect all of these components together and we can create the very first freight version of a hydrogen battery powered locomotive, ”says Creel.

Creel says he wants a hydrogen locomotive that has the power and range of a diesel-electric. “I have an operational mind,” he says. “Don’t come to me with a solution that causes more headaches. So if you don’t get the range of a diesel locomotive, we’re not going to have this discussion.

Mulligan has completed CP Railroader Training Programs and is a Certified Conductor and Locomotive Engineer who understands both operations and technology.

“For a modest investment, he told me to let me prove the concept,” Creel said. “It went from concept to reality. We will be driving the locomotive this year. He will move this year, we will change with him next year.

Mulligan and a team of five develop the prototype locomotive in Calgary.

“Our vision is to prove the concept,” says Creel of the locomotives and associated fueling systems. CP will share the information with locomotive manufacturers and, if the project is successful, see if they are interested in building production versions of hydrogen locomotives.


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