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CAF/ FCH2RAIL hydrogen train starts test runs

The CAF fuel cell train, developed as part of the European FCH2RAIL project, has started test runs I © CAF

Last week, CAF has started dynamic track testing of the hydrogen-powered demonstrator train being developed for the FCH2RAILproject. FCH2RAIL is a consortium of the following companies: CAF, DLR, Toyota, Renfe, ADIF, CNH2, IP and Stemmann-Technik.

This demonstrator train is based on one of Renfe’s commuter trains, in which a new power generation system has been installed. This system, which utilises a hybridization of energy from hydrogen fuel cells and batteries, has been integrated into the vehicle’s existing traction system. As a result, it will become one of the first bi-mode demonstrator trains with hydrogen fuel cells. In other words, a zero-emissions vehicle concept that will be able to run in electric mode on the electrified infrastructure, while the hybrid mode will be used for operating on catenary-free sections.

The Technology

The central components are fuel cell systems from Toyota Motor Europe (TME) while the traction batteries and additional converters are provided by CAF. Initial functional tests and trial runs for approval are to 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.

Toyota supplied a total of six fuel cells, which were installed on the train I © Toyota

Fuel cell and battery modules have been combined and controlled in such a way that the system meets all requirements and can be implemented cost-effectively at the same time. In addition, waste heat from the fuel cell is used to heat and air-condition the train. The air conditioning manufacturer Faiveley / Stemmann Technik (STT) and DLR are investigating innovative solutions for reducing the energy demand for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) as part of the project. In addition Stemmann analyses the interaction of the pantograph system with hydrogen systems.

Exterior view of the three-car dual-system train, which can operate both overhead-free with hydrogen and in overhead mode with pantograph I © CAF

The Testing phase

After successfully performing static testing, the train is ready to start dynamic testing on an external track. With the start of these tests, the consortium will meet the original deadlines set for this phase of testing, demonstrating the consortium’s full commitment to the project.
During the dynamic tests, the hybridization of the fuel cells and the batteries will be optimized on routes that have been specifically selected as being representative of those that would be used for commercial services, meaning that the new system will be fully tested by a wide range of different power demand conditions. As a result of these tests, the competitiveness of the new bi- mode hybrid propulsion solution can be evaluated against the diesel trains currently in use on many routes, within the framework of current plans to decarbonize rail transport.

Top view of the hydrogen train – the Toyota fuel cell packs have been installed on the roof of the center car I © CAF

The project has a €14 million budget, €10 million of which is being funded by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, formerly FCH2 JU, a European Commission agency dedicated to promoting the development of hydrogen and fuel cells.
In this context, CAF is yet again confirming its commitment to the development of zero-emission mobility solutions, in this case through the use of hydrogen. This is a technology that the CAF Group has been marketing for some years now through its subsidiary, Solaris, the leader in the hydrogen bus market in the European Union for year 2021.

Sources: CAF/ DLR/ Toyota

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