Engineering students build UK's first hydrogen powered locomotive

Aug 22, 2012
Engineering students build UK's first hydrogen powered locomotive

Engineering students and staff at the University of Birmingham have designed and built a prototype hydrogen powered locomotive, the first of its kind to operate in the UK.

This narrow gauge locomotive is a hybrid design, combining a and lead acid batteries similar to the ones used in cars. The fuel cell is used both to power the electric motors and to charge the batteries, with the batteries helping to meet the peak power demands when accelerating under load.

Hydrogen provides a clean source of energy and it offers a considerable extension in range in comparison to battery only operation. Over 5 000 litres of hydrogen are stored in a metal hydride tank at relatively low pressure, with the system typically operating at just 5 bar. This was achieved by using one of the ten advanced units successfully employed on the University’s hydrogen powered canal boat, the Ross Barlow.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

This amount of hydrogen would enable the locomotive to haul a 400 kg load up over 2 700 m, twice the height of Ben Nevis, and two additional tanks can be easily fitted to further extend its range.

The locomotive also features regenerative braking to capture, store and re-use braking energy, as well as adjustable air suspension and a highly advanced touchscreen remote control that operates over a Wi-Fi link.

The locomotive was tested at the Stapleford Miniature Railway in Leicestershire as part of a competition led by the Institute of Mechanical Engineering. Stephen Kent the Team Leader, said: ‘We are really pleased with the locomotive, particularly as it managed to haul 4000kg, well over 6 times the specified load.’

Explore further: Fuel cell-powered mobile lights tested, proven, ready for commercial use

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A high-tech propulsion system for the next 100 years

Aug 29, 2011

Environmentally friendly fuels are not just of interest for use in cars. The University of Birmingham has been operating a canal boat with a fuel cell drive for three years now. In the world of shipbuilding, ...

Army looks to hydrogen to lighten soldiers' load

Mar 27, 2008

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology are developing a portable, hydrogen-generating power system to power everything from laptops to communications gear for soldiers in the battlefield.

Recommended for you

First self-contained step dimming LED tube

17 hours ago

Samsung Electronics today introduced the industry's first AC Direct step-dimming LED linear replacement for T8 and T12 fluorescent tubes at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Convention ...

Battery system will be able to light 2,500 homes

17 hours ago

One of the largest, most environmentally-friendly, battery-based energy storage systems in the nation will be installed at the University of California, San Diego the campus announced today (Sept. 29).

NREL software tool a boon for wind industry

19 hours ago

Wind energy is blowing away skeptics—it's so close to achieving cost parity with fossil fuels that just a little extra efficiency is all that is likely needed to push it into the mainstream and past the ...

Harvesting energy from walking

20 hours ago

A device that fits into a shoe harvests the energy made by walking and successfully uses it in watch batteries.

User comments : 0