CZ/SK verze

Operail and Stargate Hydrogen signed a Letter of intent for converting diesel-electric shunting locomotives

Operail and Stargate Hydrogen signed a Letter of intent for converting diesel-electric shunting locomotives
photo: Operail press materials/Operail´s locomotive
27 / 10 / 2021

A Letter of intent for converting diesel-electric shunting locomotives to fuel cell power was signed by the international transportation operator of Estonia, Operail, and technology company Stargate Hydrogen. The plan will be delivered in two stages, beginning with completing a model by the end of the year 2022. The base locomotive will be the C36-7A, with reusing 'most of the bottom half; the diesel engine replaced by a zero-emission powertrain consisting of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells from a 'leading brand' and lithium-ion batteries. It is expected that the conversion will save around 370 tonnes of CO2 emissions per locomotive per year. Which would help with the global environmental issues.

Stargate Hydrogen will develop the powertrain and organize the conversion work in partnership with Operail. It will also be accountable for prototype approval. Successful licensing of the prototype would be followed by the rebuilding of an additional 40 locomotives.

The conversion of aging diesel locomotives to hydrogen power 'is already an economically sustainable solution and will be even more so in the future, said Chief Technology Officer Rainer Küngas.

Operail Chairman Raul Toomsalu said: the operator's sustainability ambitions would primarily be achieved through the electrification of Estonia's main lines, but there would still be requirements for shunting operations.

The team at Stargate Hydrogen has outstanding international experience and world-class technological capabilities while our professionals at the Tapa depot have the skills and knowledge for building modern locomotives', he said. 'As a result of this collaboration, we can offer innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions in all our target markets.'

Henrik Hololei, Director-General for Mobility & Transport at the European Commission, said 'even if rail is already largely electrified, energy-efficient and our most sustainable transport mode, it is certainly no time to be complacent. For example, around 20% of our engines in the EU still run on diesel.

'There is no doubt that we need innovative solutions to enable the wider use of alternative fuels such as green hydrogen. We are keen on exploring, together with the Shift2Rail and Fuel Cells & Hydrogen joint undertakings, how fuel cells and hydrogen can be integrated into rail operations and how to turn ideas into actual projects and applications.'

Stargate Hydrogen is expecting to be a global leader on the global scale for selling or leasing fuel cell locos thanks to cooperation with Operail as an end-user.

Stargate Hydrogen is now offering full-service packages that include covering the whole hydrogen value chain, including production.