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Scottish project aims for hydrogen fuel cell train

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty


Arcola Energy is working with a consortium of rail companies and researchers in Scotland to develop a prototype fuel cell train as a demonstrator.

The project will see Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland and the Hydrogen Accelerator, based at the University of St Andrews, work with London-based Arcola on the uel cell integration, rail engineering and functional safety to deliver Scotland’s first hydrogen powered fuel cell train by November 2021.

A key objective of the project is to create opportunities for the Scottish rail supply chain through skills development and industrialisation of the technology. However this is substantially behind other train technology providers such as Alstom and Siemens.

Arcola’s A-Drive fuel cell technology platform will be integrated into an existing Class 314 car passenger train, made available by ScotRail, at the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway. The project is supported by rail engineering and safety experts Arup and Abbott Risk Consulting to form an integrated team, with AEGIS providing regulatory third-party verification.

“Hydrogen traction power offers a safe, reliable and zero-carbon alternative for Scotland’s rail network. The hydrogen train project is an excellent opportunity for industry leaders in hydrogen, rail engineering and safety to collaborate with Scottish technology providers to develop a deployment ready solution,” said Dr Ben Todd, CEO of Arcola Energy. “We are delighted to be working with Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland and the Hydrogen Accelerator, to support Scotland’s strategy to make passenger railways emission free by 2035.”

Arup’s Edinburgh office will also work with the Hydrogen Accelerator to chart the route to mainline deployment of hydrogen powered trains across Scotland, particularly on the delivery of the hydrogen fuel.

“With Scotland’s focus on achieving net zero emissions by 2035 and rail playing a leading role in this, hydrogen offers a safe, reliable and zero carbon alternative to other forms of rail propulsion,” said Clare Lavelle, Scotland Energy Business Lead, Arup. “This project is not only a crucial step in helping us understand the practical challenges of using hydrogen traction power on our railways, but an example of the type of investment Scotland needs to take advantage of the opportunity to build a secure, flexible, cost effective and zero carbon energy network.”

“This is a really important project for us and for Scotland. We are already engaged in hydrogen fuel-cell trials for aviation. To be part of this consortium and to be able to apply our functional safety experience to such an important sustainability initiative for Scotland’s railways is a real privilege,” said John Abbott, Managing Director of Abbott Risk Consulting (ARC)

Following demonstrations, the train will serve as a development platform for Scottish technology providers and academics as Scottish Enterprise and the Hydrogen Accelerator explore opportunities for Scotland’s hydrogen-enabled low carbon strategy.

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