DB locomotives will use hydrogen and ammonia

2022/10/05 at 1:11 PM

Deutsche Bahn has signed an agreement with the Australian company Fortescue Future Industries on the development of zero-emission locomotives using ammonia and hydrogen as fuel. The project includes the modification of already used diesel engines.

DB and FFI have signed a letter of intent on cooperation in hydrogen projects involving the development of propulsion technologies and a green fuel distribution system in Europe. In a first project, both partners are working on modifying diesel engines for locomotives and traction vehicles in order to use hydrogen and ammonia in them. This will make these vehicles CO2 neutral. The second project concerns logistics cooperation and the creation of hydrogen and ammonia supply chains in Europe. DB Cargo will be one of the largest consumers of ecological fuel as well as its distributor for other companies.

„Climate-neutral mobility starts with green supply chains on the railways. Today we can already transport hydrogen in liquid form in conventional tank wagons. This is efficient and uncomplicated. Our goal is to develop further logistics solutions for hydrogen, because rail is the most climate-friendly form of transport. One train can replace 52 trucks.“ said Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, CEO of DB Cargo.

As a hydrogen carrier, ammonia has two advantages over liquid hydrogen. It can be used in already functioning vehicles, after appropriate modification. This lowers the investment cost. Second, it has a higher economic density. This makes it easier to transport and store. A key component for the use of ammonia is the so-called cracker, which breaks down this substance into hydrogen and nitrogen. The device was constructed by the Ammonigy company from Stuttgart. The resulting hydrogen is mixed with the remaining ammonia and acts as an igniter for a combustion reaction that does not emit CO2 into the atmosphere. A prototype engine with this technology is currently being tested.

„We know that cutting edge technology and real-world solutions are key to addressing climate change which is why Fortescue is partnering with Deutsche Bahn, Europe’s leading mobility and logistics provider. Together FFI and DB will work to reduce global emissions given the urgency to find new ways to replace fossil fuels in the transport industry.” said Dr. Andrew Forrest, Founder and Chairman of the Board of FFI

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