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British class 66 to trial hydrogen-bio gas combination

TRIALS using a Freightliner class 66 locomotive powered by diesel, biogas and hydrogen will begin this month and last nine months. The British government’s First of a Kind (FOAK) scheme, which is designed to support innovative new technology, is funding the project

The trial will investigate whether diesel can be substituted with both hydrogen and biogas. A locomotive will be fitted with precision injection technology supplied by Clean Air Power, allowing the class 66 to run on a combination of the three fuels. Freightliner says this method will support decarbonising freight operator’s diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that will not require significant short-term investment., adding that there is also the potential of a longer-term fleet replacement using 100% hydrogen fuel.

The Railway Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) will assess the locomotive’s exhaust emissions in line with the latest guidelines. All work on locomotives, static testing and emission data collection will be undertaken at Freightliner’s Leeds Midland Road depot.

Already widely used in the road industry, this will be the first time the technology has been used by the rail freight sector. Freightliner believes this is a significant move due to the number of class 66s in use in Britain. It operates 113 in its own fleet while competitors DB Cargo UK, GB Railfreight, Direct Rail Services and Colas Railfreight all use their own class 66s. Overall the type hauls more than 80% of British rail freight.

The project is being supported by Network Rail, Tarmac, Rail Safety Standards Board, Flogas, Carrickarory and the University of Birmingham.

“All parties are focussed on delivering a fully functioning low-carbon, low-emission, hydrogen-friendly class 66 locomotive,” says Mr Dan Skelton, Clean Air Power’s managing director. “Our solution offers a route to viable, long-term decarbonisation and its associated cost benefits, which will be practical to implement and scale.”

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