Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), Sierra Northern Railway (SNR), and the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) have teamed up to build a brand-new hydrogen fuel cell engine that will be installed in a switcher locomotive now undergoing diesel conversion in the United States.

The trio announced that the project has been awarded $4 million by the California Energy Commission to support the train’s design and demonstration. Additionally, SoCalGas has committed an additional $500,000 to the project.

Sierra Northern Railway will retire a high-emission Tier 0 diesel locomotive engine and replace it with a hydrogen alternative that is now being developed in order to convert the locomotive.

When completed, the new vehicle will save up to 10,000 gallons of conventional diesel fuel per year by running on hydrogen, equating to more than 100 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide avoided.

Neil Navin, SoCalGas’ Vice-President of Clean Energy Innovations, said, “We believe hydrogen fuel cell-powered locomotives can play a significant role in reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the railways that serve California’s ports and warehouses.

“This research is just part of our efforts to lead the transition to clean fuels in California and it supports our commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in our operation and delivery of energy by 2045.”

Nedim Husomanovic

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