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Alstom to develop hydrogen tender for electric locomotives

28 November 2022
Reading time ~ 4 min
The render of the Prima electric locomotive coupled with an hydrogen tender by Alstom
The render of the Prima electric locomotive coupled with an hydrogen tender by Alstom. Source: Alstom
Litvintsova Olga, Editor of International Projects, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency
Reading time ~ 4 min
Stolchnev Alexey, Russian Projects Editor, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency

France: The company plans to build a generator tender that generates electricity from high-power hydrogen fuel cells. It should be connected to the electric locomotive by a power cable and provide power for traction on non-electrified sections of the railway network.

This technology is created by the order of Nestle Waters that expects to start its implementation on freight trains in 2025. Another project participant is the French energy company ENGIE which will establish the supply of hydrogen for locomotives and build refueling infrastructure as part of an agreement signed with Alstom this spring.

Nestle Waters plans to use locomotives with hydrogen traction to transport VITTEL mineral water between the French bottling company plant in the Vosges and its distribution centers in Arles and Montreuil-Bellay which are respectively located 600 km and 760 km away from the production site. Over the long term, this project may allow Nestle Waters to reduce emissions on these routes by 10,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year (90% of current emissions).

It is worth noting that Nestle Waters has set a goal of reducing CO2 emissions in France by 13% by the end of 2022. In these terms, the company launched a railway line between Perrier’s carbonated mineral water plant in Vergès and the port of Fos-sur-Mer, which helped remove 27,000 trucks from the route within a year. Also, Nestle Waters since August 2020 has been using a Stadler EuroDual hybrid locomotive (catenary + Stage V diesel engine) to transport water on the route between Vosges and Arles.

Alstom also runs a project to upgrade shunting diesel locomotives to hydrogen in Germany. Work is being carried out at the manufacturer’s site in Salzgitter. The project also involves the participation of the VPS Bahn transport company, Bosch, and a number of research centers. The financial support of €1.5 mln is provided by the Lower Saxony authorities, as the project is linked to the CO2 emissions reduction program for the local Salzgitter AG steel plant (see the second image). Alstom plans to use that experience and develop a proposal about the set of equipment for clients’ locomotive modernization.

The prototypes of hydrogen-powered locomotives have already been presented by three manufacturers. Thus, CRRC showed a shunting model at the beginning of 2021. After conducting a test in October, the locomotive proved to have a power of 700 kW with the traction provided by hydrogen fuel cells and batteries. Recently, the Chinese producer received the first export order to deliver a hydrogen locomotive to FCAB in Chile.

Pesa also presented its hydrogen-powered shunting locomotive in September last year, it was shown at InnoTrans. The claimed power is 720 kW and the traction is provided by hydrogen fuel cells and batteries as well. Pesa is currently conducting final tests of this shunter in Žmigrud, and the company plans to apply the gained experience to develop a new hydrogen fuel cell locomotive.

Talgo has also created its hydrogen locomotive. The Spanish company upgraded the Travca electric locomotive with hybrid traction (hydrogen + catenary). The dynamic tests of the locomotive with a passenger train began at the Las Matas site in June 2022.