USA: Progress Rail, BNSF and Chevron have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a fuel cell demonstrator locomotive to assess the viability of using hydrogen as an alternative to diesel for main line freight operations. 

Progress Rail plans to design and build a prototype fuel cell locomotive, with Chevron developing the hydrogen fuelling infrastructure. BNSF would then operate the locomotive for a period of time.

‘Caterpillar has made great strides in moving our advanced power technology forward’, said Joe Creed, Group President of Energy & Transportation at Progress Rail’s parent company Caterpillar, on December 14. ‘Our Progress Rail team will leverage that knowledge and experience toward a hydrogen fuel cell locomotive. Working with Chevron and BNSF will allow us to advance hydrogen technology across the industry.’

Jeff Gustavson, President of Chevron New Energies, said the project ‘is an important step toward advancing new use cases for hydrogen in heavy duty transport, as we seek to create a commercially viable hydrogen economy.’

John Lovenburg, Vice-President Environmental at BNSF, said ‘this technology could one day be a lower-carbon solution for line-haul service, as it has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and remain cost competitive’.