Ballard Power Systems, a fuel-cell tech firm, has received a fuel cell module order from Medha Servo Drives, a rail system integrator, to create India’s first hydrogen-powered trains.
The two retrofitted diesel-electric commuter trains designed for Indian Railways will feature eight 100 kW FCmoveTM-HD+. They will be more efficient and have a higher power density than prior module generations.
The trains are set to enter service in 2024, with the possibility of further retrofits following the initial deployment.
Due to the fact that hydrogen is currently less expensive than diesel, the approximate investment in the hydrogen fuel cell venture will pay for itself in less than two years. The utilization of hydrogen will also decrease annual CO2 emissions by more than 11 metric tons and eliminate nearly a metric ton of particulate matter.
“Rail transportation is a critical piece of infrastructure across India, and we are proud to be taking the first steps to decarbonize this facet of our economy. With leading technology and strong project economics, we are optimistic about the future of zero-emission rail transport,” said Kasyap Reddy, Managing Director of Medha Servo Drives.
“Our progress in decarbonizing the rail market is just beginning, as we work with leading rolling stock manufacturers, integrators and operators globally. We are excited to grow our fuel cell business in India and to power the first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission passenger trains in the Indian market,” said David Mucciacciaro, Chief Commercial Officer of Ballard.
The Indian Railways Organization of Alternate Fuel (IROAF) welcomed bids in January 2021 to create a hydrogen fuel cell-based hybrid power train for retrofitting the 700 HP diesel-hydraulic locomotives that run on Himachal Pradesh’s Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge section.
Indian Railways hopes to save ₹23 million (~$309,718) annually by converting diesel-powered diesel-electric multiple units into a hydrogen fuel-based train. The technology will be evaluated on the diesel-electric multiple units on the 89-km Sonipat-Jind section of the Northern Railway.
Ballard and the Adani Group have signed a memorandum of understanding to assess the potential for fuel cell commercialization in India’s various applications. In order to manufacture fuel cells in India, the two parties will investigate their options.