Students build hydrogen locomotive

University engineering students and staff have designed, built and tested a prototype hydrogen-powered narrow gauge locomotive.

Hailed as the first of its kind to operate in the UK, the University of Birmingham's hybrid train operates using a 5,000-litre hydrogen fuel cell combined with lead acid batteries.

The fuel cell is used both to power the permanent magnet electric motors and to charge the batteries, with the batteries helping to meet the peak power demands during acceleration.

The advanced cell, which has already been successfully deployed by the university on a canal barge, exceeded expectations when the locomotive was tested on Leicestershire's Stapleford Miniature Railway.

Dr Stuart Hillmansen, from the University of Birmingham's School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: "Our hydrogen-powered locomotive is a clean and efficient example of how hydrogen power could work for future trains on non-electrified routes.

"We hope that our efforts will encourage the rail industry to take a closer look at this exciting technology."