British consortium developing a Class 66 bi-fuel locomotive running on biogas and hydrogen


A consortium of Clean Air Power and Freightliner possesses secured nearly £ 0.4million (US $ 0.55million) in government funding to develop a dual fuel biogas and hydrogen solution for the Class 66 locomotive. Technology is one of 30 winners in the final round of the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition announced by the transport secretary.

Freightliner Class 66 locomotives are 3,300 hp mainline diesel-electric units introduced in 1998. The top speed is 75 mph.

This is the first time that this dual-fuel hydrogen technology, used in the road industry, will be applied to the rail freight sector on such a widely used class of locomotive. The work will begin on July 1 and will take place over a period of nine months.

The main partners in the project are Freightliner, which operates more than 113 Class 66s in the UK, and Clean Air Power, a provider of bi-fuel solutions for freight. The project is also supported by Network Rail, Tarmac, Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB), Flogas, Carrickarory and the University of Birmingham.

The project will explore the possibility of replacing diesel with hydrogen and biogas on the Class-66 locomotive which carries over 80% of freight on the UK rail network. This will be achieved by modernizing the Class 66 with the precision injection technology of Clean Air Power.

This solution will support a program to decarbonize the diesel fleets of freight operating companies in a cost-effective manner that does not require large short-term investments and facilitates operational learning in support of a replacement program. longer term fleet, potentially using 100% fuel.

Exhaust gas emissions will be assessed in accordance with the latest RSSB guidelines to understand both the baseline conditions and the impact of dual fuel for hydrogen and biogas. Data on emissions and substitution are a key output of this project and will be available to the RSSB.

All locomotive work, static testing and emission data collection will be carried out at Freightliner’s vehicle maintenance facilities in Leeds, with support from Carrickarory Consultancy and in consultation with RSSB.

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