The Indian Railway started off with steam engines, went through diesel power, ended up in electric power and finally aims to go hybrid. Locomotives running on Hydrogen fuel-cell battery is what we are talking about.
A fuel-cell hybrid combines the environmental advantage of an electric locomotive, with a diesel locomotive's low production cost. The main component, Hydrogen, can be sourced from various renewable energies, and need not be imported.
The plan is to build a 300kW (transient power above 1MW) fuel-cell based broad-gauge locomotive. The locomotive will be heavier and powerful than a conventional diesel/electric example, and will be manufactured by DMW (Diesel Loco Modernisation Works), Patiala.
The hybrid train will employ a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel-cell with three air-cooled stack modules, each rated at a minimum of 100kW. The setup will make use of a dc/dc boost/buck converter with a transformer.
The hydrogen storage system will consist of two modules of Carbon fibre/Aluminium tanks.
The locomotive will have an axle-load of 21-tonne, and a new underframe and superstructure. Components such as bogies, dc traction motors, air brakes, vigilance control device, event recorder, sanders, air dryers and horns, will be borrowed from existing coaches.
Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi have invited tenders for the project, and applications for bidding have started.
Electric locomotives, although clean and efficient, uses a lot of electric power to run. Cost of production is also high. A fuel-cell train would give the perfect balance of efficiency and economy, but most importantly, it proves that our very own Indian Railway is advancing.