Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Los Angeles Port Hosts New Hydrogen Fuel Cell Locomotive

The Port of Los Angeles played host to a one-of-a-kind piece of rail equipment last week, as Class I railroad BNSF unveiled an experimental, hydrogen fuel cell switching locomotive.

Developed in a partnership with the United States Department of Defense, the locomotive does not rely on conventional fuels to operate, and instead operates using a fuel cell – akin to a chemical battery – that uses hydrogen as the fuel, oxygen as an oxidant, and generates almost zero pollution. The locomotive, which BNSF claims is the first of its kind in the world, actually runs on a set of more conventional batteries that are charged by the hydrogen fuel cell.

While BNSF and others touted the zero-emission aspect of the locomotive for civilian purposes, the DoD also envisions the locomotive being used as mobile power generator for military and civil disaster scenarios.