Ballard Lands Order for CPKC Hydrogen Locomotive Program

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) has ordered 18 additional 200-kilowatt fuel cell engines from Ballard Power Systems to support the expansion of its Hydrogen Locomotive Program.

The fuel cell engines are slated for delivery this year, Ballard reported July 27. The company has supplied CPKC with 20 fuel cell engines over the past two years. They are being used in three locomotives, with a combined fuel cell power of 4 megawatts.

CPKC’s Hydrogen Locomotive program began in December 2020 with the retrofit of an existing diesel-electric linehaul locomotive. The diesel prime mover and traction alternator were replaced with hydrogen fuel cell and battery technology to power the unit’s electric traction motors. In November 2021, the Class I received a $15 million 50% matching grant from Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) to expand the initiative to three locomotives (for a total of two linehaul units and one switcher), install hydrogen production facilities at two locations, and create a “global center of excellence in hydrogen and freight rail systems” in Alberta

According to Ballard, the locomotives “have been undergoing field testing in 2022 and early 2023 with successful tests, proving the capabilities of Ballard’s hydrogen fuel cell technology in locomotive applications.” It noted that “[f]urther development on range across temperature variations, heavy hauling, fine tuning auxiliary load to avoid waste, [and] increased number of hours on current and additional units will support continued technological evolution.”

By the end of 2023, the three program locomotives, plus the two hydrogen production and fueling facilities in Calgary and Edmonton will be in operation, the Class I confirmed to Railway Age earlier this year.

“Our hydrogen locomotive program has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from locomotive operations, supporting the transition to a lower-carbon future in the freight rail sector,” Kyle Mulligan, AVP Operations Technology at CPKC, reported July 27. “We are excited to expand development of these pioneering zero-emission locomotives with collaborators like Ballard.”

“We are thrilled to support our partner, CPKC, as they expand their development of fuel cell-powered locomotives to decarbonize critical transportation routes,” said Seungsoo Jung, Vice President of Rail and Emerging Markets for Ballard. “Our teams have been working hand-in-hand to ensure success of this program and we are excited for the future with CPKC to help scale their growing hydrogen fleet.”

In related developments, CPKC and CSX in June reported a planned joint venture for the building and development of hydrogen locomotive conversion kits for diesel-electric locomotives. As an initial step in the collaboration, CSX said it plans to convert one of its diesel locomotives using a hydrogen conversion kit developed by CPKC. Also, CPKC in May announced entering a long-term agreement with Teck Coal Limited for transportation of steelmaking coal from Teck’s four operations in southeastern, B.C. The railroad and Teck “intend to collaboratively develop a unique pilot program that integrates the use of CPKC’s hydrogen locomotives into Teck’s steelmaking coal supply chain,” according to CPKC. Testing is expected to begin in early 2024.  

Further Reading

• CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program Advances

• CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Powers Up

• Ballard to Power CP’s Expanded Hydrogen Locomotive Program

• First Look: CP’s Hydrogen Zero Emissions Locomotive

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