A hydrogen-powered hybrid train has been designed and built by students at the University of Birmingham, UK. The prototype narrow gauge locomotive, running on a 5 000-litre hydrogen fuel cell combined with lead-acid batteries, is the first of its kind operating in the UK.
Dr Stuart Hillmansen, from the University of Birmingham’s School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: “Our hydrogen-powered locomotive is a clean and efficient example of how hydrogen power could work for future trains on non-electrified routes. We hope that our efforts will encourage the rail industry to take a closer look at this exciting technology.”
The fuel cell is used both to power the permanent magnet electric motors and to charge the batteries, helping to meet the peak power demands during acceleration.
The advanced cell, which has already been successfully deployed by the university on a canal barge, exceeded expectations when the locomotive was tested on Leicestershire’s Stapleford Miniature Railway.
Hydrogen transport also hit the headlines recently during the London 2012 Olympics. A fleet of five black cabs, powered by hydrogen, shuttled people around the city demonstrating the potential of H-cells as an alternative fuel source.