First Look: CP’s Hydrogen Zero Emissions Locomotive

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

Canadian Pacific’s (CP) H20EL, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered linehaul freight locomotive prototype, will be prepped this fall for official painting and launch, the Class I railroad reported.

CP in an Oct. 4 Twitter post provided a video rendering of the H20EL, which stands for Hydrogen Zero Emissions Locomotive (see below). It also included unit details on the “Sustainability Driven” section of its website.

The blue and green paint-scheme colors represent “sustainability, water and technology,” according to the railroad, and the angled typography of H2OEL symbolizes “movement and progress in action.”

CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program in December 2020 announced work on the H2OEL, a retrofit of an existing diesel-electric linehaul locomotive. The diesel prime mover and traction alternator are being replaced with hydrogen fuel cell and battery technology to power the unit’s electric traction motors. Ballard is supplying six 200-kilowatt fuel cell modules, which will provide a total of 1.2 megawatts of electricity to power the locomotive.

On March 10, 2021, CP President and CEO Keith Creel told attendees of Railway Age’s Next-Gen Freight Rail conference that the Program locomotive is expected to be operational by the end of 2022. At that time, the railroad has said it “will conduct rail service trials and qualification testing to evaluate the technology’s readiness for the freight-rail sector.”

If the concept is proven reliable, CP could produce two additional locomotives, according to Creel. While the Class I railroad is not looking to become a locomotive manufacturer, he told Railway Age conference attendees, its vision is to partner with an OEM in the future to “benefit CP and the North American [railroad] landscape.”

On the CP website, Creel noted that the project is “globally significant” and “positions CP at the leading edge of decarbonizing the freight transportation sector. CP will continue to focus on finding innovative solutions to transform our operations and implement our Climate Strategy, positioning CP and our industry as leaders for a sustainable future.”

Following are more Railway Age articles on alternate technology-powered locomotives:

Caterpillar, Chevron Team on Hydrogen Power

PHL to Test Progress Rail EMD® Joule

Southern Railway of BC Going ‘Green’ With Switcher Retrofit

Wabtec, GM Team on New Locomotive Power Systems

SERA To Build Hydrogen-Powered Switcher

BNSF/Wabtec BEL Pilot: The Results Are In and BNSF/Wabtec BEL Pilot Under Way

Zero-Emission Locomotives on U.S. Railways?

Fuel Cells and Batteries: The Future of Mobility?

The ‘H’ Factor

CP Embarks on Hydrogen Locomotive Pilot (With more information here: 2021 Railroader of the Year: Keith Creel, Canadian Pacific and here: CP Hydrogen Locomotive Pilot Powered by Ballard)

Hydrogen Strategy for Canada’s Railways

OptiFuel Producing Natural Gas Switchers

Cummins QSK95 for Freight

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