GM, Wabtec to develop hydrogen powered locomotives

by Joseph K. Clark

General Motors says it has signed a deal to develop railroad locomotives powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and battery system

DETROIT — General Motors has signed a deal to develop railroad locomotives powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and battery system. Under a nonbinding agreement with Wabtec Corp., GM batteries and hydrogen technology will be used in locomotives to help railroads cut carbon emissions.

Wabtec already has built a battery-powered locomotive prototype. The Pittsburgh company said it was used with two diesel locomotives in a California test earlier this year that cut emissions by 11%. Fuel cell locomotives will follow the full development of the electric version.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the companies say that Wabtec’s energy management experience will help the companies develop zero-emissions long-haul locomotives.

 powered locomotives

The financial details of the venture were not released. GM has been developing hydrogen fuel cell power systems for years. The designs will be assembled at a factory in Brownstown Township, Michigan, near Detroit, a joint venture with Honda. GM and Honda have been working to jointly develop fuel cell vehicles.

GM announced another partnership to make hydrogen fuel cell power systems for heavy truck company Navistar in January. In about three years, the companies will run a test with trucking company J.B. Hunt to haul freight along yet-unidentified corridors in the U.S.

Navistar says its hydrogen trucks will be able to go more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) on a single charge and can be refueled in less than 15 minutes.

GM says Hydrogen fuel cells have an advantage over battery-electric powered trucks, with a more extended range pulling heavy loads and because they can be refueled faster.

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