CRRC has unveiled a hydrogen powered locomotive, which the manufacturer says has capacity for up to 270kg of liquefied hydrogen. Refuelling takes two hours.

Dubbed the “Ningdong,” the locomotive was converted from a diesel locomotive at CRRC’s Datong subsidiary and now has a fuel cell output of 800kW. CRRC Datong deputy general manager and chief engineer, Mr Liang Zhenzhong, told state-run Science and Technology Daily that the operating costs of hydrogen-powered locomotives were about half those of diesel locomotives.

CRRC is part of a technology cooperation alliance with the Ningxia-Ningdong Railway in northern China that aims to convert its existing diesel locomotives to run on hydrogen. CRRC estimates that hydrogen technology could replace up to 90% of the 7800 diesel locomotives operating in China, which account for 36% of the national fleet.

China has an ambitious plan to promote the development of its hydrogen-powered vehicles, aiming to have 50,000 fuel cell-powered vehicles on the road by 2025, according to a National Development and Reform Commission plan released in March last year. It also aims to build a number of hydrogen refuelling stations and produce 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen a year by 2025.

In December 2022, CRRC unveiled a hydrogen-powered train in Chengdu with a top speed of 160km/h, according to local newspaper Chengdu Daily. The train’s fuel cells could run for 600km, enough to last for a day without the need for refuelling, the report said.

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