CP buying fuel cells from Ballard Power

by Inside Logistics Online Staff
CP is converting a diesel locomotive to hydrogen power.

Canadian Pacific will use fuel cell modules from Ballard Power Systems for its Hydrogen Locomotive Program. The modules will provide a total of 1.2 megawatts of electricity to power the locomotive.

Through its Hydrogen Locomotive Program, CP will develop North America’s first hydrogen-powered line-haul freight locomotive by retrofitting a formerly diesel-powered locomotive with Ballard hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cells will work with battery technology to power the locomotive’s electric traction motors.

Once operational, CP will conduct rail service trials and qualification testing to evaluate the technology’s readiness for the freight-rail sector.

“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,” said CP president and CEO Keith Creel.

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

Ballard plans to deliver six of its 200-kilowatt fuel cell modules to CP in 2021. Ballard will provide support to enable integration of the modules into the locomotive.

“We are excited to be working with CP, an industry leader in the North American rail sector,” said Randy MacEwen, Ballard president and CEO.

“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.”

CP says it has improved its fuel efficiency by 40 percent since 1990 and is also testing biofuels, natural gas and battery power, but that almost the entire fleet of North American railway operators use diesel power.