CANADIAN Pacific (CP) will use fuel cell modules from Ballard Power Systems, Canada, for its first hydrogen fuel cell (HFC)-powered linehaul freight locomotive.

The Class 1’s Hydrogen Locomotive Programme, announced in December, will retrofit an existing diesel-electric linehaul locomotive, replacing its diesel prime mover and traction alternator with hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) and battery technology to power its electric traction motors.

Ballard plans to deliver six 200kW fuel cell modules to CP in 2021 and will support installation. The modules will provide a total of 1.2MW of electricity to power the locomotive, the companies reported.

Once the locomotive is operational, CP says it “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,” says Mr Keith Creel, CP president and CEO. “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.”

“In addition to Ballard’s work focused on powering commuter trains in Europe and urban trams in China, CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Programme 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,” says Ballard president and CEO, Mr Randy MacEwen.