CP locomotives being converted to run on hydrogen
Hydrogen locomotives aim to enable the rail industry to become carbon neutral.
An Alberta company working on transformation, for the Canadian Pacific (CP), three diesel locomotives so they can be powered by hydrogen is nearing completion of its second conversion.
Bilton Welding and Manufacturing, located in Innisfail, about 100 kilometers north of Calgary, hopes it will have more locomotives to convert in the future.
We are studying the possibility of accepting more orders from CP or other railway companies in North America, says its president and chief executive officer (CEO), Robert Bilton. He adds that his company is developing the expertise to convert ten locomotives a year.
If we get more such contracts, we can create an efficient and profitable assembly line.
CP, which has already started testing the first hydrogen locomotive in the Calgary area, wants all three locomotives operational by the end of the year. The rail company's project also includes hydrogen production and distribution facilities in Calgary and Edmonton.
It's a perfect test bed. If we can do heavy haul, when the temperature is very low [i.e.] during the toughest operating conditions I've seen in my career, if it works [in the region of Calgary], it's going to work everywhere, said Keith Creel, CEO of CP, during his speech at the RailTrends 2022 conference.
The conversion of these locomotives consists of replacing the diesel engines by hydrogen fuel cells. The learning curve was long. It was necessary to develop a new manufacturing system, whether at the level of the electronics or the cooling system, underlines Robert Bilton.
This learning allows the company , whose majority of clients are in the oil industry, to diversify.
We have all come to terms with the fact that there is a transition. So we can't dispute it, he says.
With information from Kyle Baxx