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: Going nuts? Turkey looks to pistachios to heat new eco-city

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

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

Apr 17, 2014

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

Apr 17, 2014

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.