CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Powers Up

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
CP on Jan. 24 shared via Twitter:

CP on Jan. 24 shared via Twitter: "The project team is now preparing for field-testing with the H2OEL [pictured]. This is a significant milestone for CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program."

Canadian Pacific (CP) on Jan. 24 shared via Twitter a video of its fully painted hydrogen fuel cell-powered linehaul freight locomotive (H20EL), which the railroad said has run under its own power.

CP reported that its Hydrogen Locomotive Program team is now preparing to field test the HSOEL, which stands for Hydrogen Zero Emissions Locomotive.

Watch the locomotive video below:

CP provided a “first look” at the unit in October 2021. A rendering, released on Twitter, showed the blue and green paint scheme, which the railroad said represents “sustainability, water and technology.” The angled typography of H2OEL symbolizes “movement and progress in action,” it added.

The H2OEL is a retrofit of an existing diesel-electric linehaul locomotive. The diesel prime mover and traction alternator have been replaced with hydrogen fuel cell and battery technology to power the unit’s electric traction motors. CP announced work on the unit, through its Hydrogen Locomotive Program, in December 2020.

On March 10, 2021, CP President and CEO Keith Creel told attendees of Railway Age’s Next-Gen Freight Rail conference that the locomotive was expected to be operational by the end of 2022.

The Class I railroad in November 2021 reported it had expanded the Hydrogen Locomotive Program to three locomotives (two linehaul units and one switcher), and would install hydrogen production facilities at two locations and create a “global center of excellence in hydrogen and freight rail systems” in Alberta, following receipt of a $15 million 50% matching grant from Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA). The grant award built on the $15 million CP already planned to invest in the program in 2021.

CP said at that time it intends to “refine the process of converting diesel-electric powertrains to hydrogen-electric powertrains over a series of three categories of locomotives, which collectively represent the majority of locomotives in use throughout North America.”

In related developments, Ballard Power Systems on Jan. 19, 2022 reported that it will deliver eight additional 200-kilowatt fuel cell modules to CP this year for the expanded Hydrogen Locomotive Program. CP ordered six 200-kilowatt fuel cell modules from Ballard in March 2021 as part of the original program.

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