Photo: University of Birmingham
Engineering students at the University of Birmingham have built a locomotive powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and lead acid batteries.With more than 5,000 litres of hydrogen fuel on board, the locomotive can generate enough power to haul 900 lbs for nearly 9,000 ft.
Built to compete in the IMechE Railway Challenge, the locomotive fits a narrow gauge track; the rails are just more than 10″ apart. That limits the size of the trains that run on it, but given that the students’ design allows for the addition of two more fuel tanks, the Birmingham locomotive has plenty of potential power to compensate.
Dr. Stuart Hillmansen, the team’s faculty advisor, hopes the successful use of zero-emission hydrogen power “will encourage the rail industry to take a closer look at this exciting technology.”
Wired points out that while high speed rail lines are usually electrified, many small rural lines could benefit from hydrogen power, which is cleaner than the diesel fuel they currently use.
The little locomotive uses regenerative braking to capture energy it produces, and is controlled by a wifi-enabled touchscreen remote. Watch it go:
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