Toyota Motor Europe will supply the hydrogen fuel cell modules that will power the FCH2RAIL project, the automobile giant confirmed today (8th April).
The fuel cell power pack will allow emission-free travelling by train without the need for overhead lines with the packaged fuel cell system modules set to promote hydrogen utilisation for a hydrogen society.
Thiebault Paquet, Director of the Fuel Cell Business Group at Toyota Motor Europe, said, “Hydrogen has an important role to play in helping decarbonise Europe’s railways, and we are excited to integrate Toyota fuel cell modules into the Fuel Cell Hybrid Power Pack.”
At the heart of the FCH2RAIL project, of which Toyota is a consortium member, there is a hybrid, bi-modal drive system that combines the electrical power supply from the overhead line with a fuel cell hybrid power pack, which consists of hydrogen fuel cells and batteries, that works independently to the overhead line.
Holger Dittus, Project Leader from the German Aerospace Centre, said, “We want to show that this type of bi-mode train is a competitive and environmentally friendly alternative to the diesel train.”
Many railway lines are being equipped with overhead lines in Europe which is a very expensive and long-term project that depends on the correct local geographical conditions.
An alternative to this is to utilise purely battery-powered trains, but they have a limited range of operation (30-70km), depending on the route profile and outside temperatures.
Current diesel trains have lower performance in terms of top speed and acceleration compared to vehicles powered by electric motors from overhead lines.
A significant factor of the hydrogen fuel cell train is that it can be expanded on for use in both passenger and freight transportation.
This is due to the energy supply system being designed in such a way that power and range can be expanded based on a modular principle: the number of fuel cell and battery modules influences the drive power, and the number of hydrogen tanks determines the operation range on non-electrified lines.
To understand the environmental impacts of such a system, from its production, to its use, up to its disposal and to evaluate the performance under real conditions, it is planned to convert a CIVIA electric commuter train (manufactured by the Spanish manufacturer CAF) and to integrate a fuel cell hybrid power pack in this train.
The Spanish state railway operator Renfe is providing the train. One of the central components of the on-board energy system are the packaged fuel cell system modules from Toyota Motor Europe (TME), while the batteries and power converters will be provided by CAF.
Initial functional tests and trial runs for approval will take place on Spanish and Portuguese tracks with the support of the infrastructure managers Administrador de Infrastructuras Ferroviarias (ADIF) and Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP).
The Spanish hydrogen research centre Centro National de Hidrogeno (CNH2) has been entrusted with the construction of a hydrogen fuelling station to refuel the prototype and in FCHPP testing before train integration.