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GM to supply battery, fuel cell technology for Wabtec hydrogen locomotives

16 June 2021

Wabtec Corporation and General Motors signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly develop and commercialize GM’s Ultium battery technology and HYDROTEC hydrogen fuel cell systems for Wabtec locomotives.

“The rail industry is on the cusp of a sustainable transformation with the introduction of batteries and hydrogen to power locomotive fleets,” said Rafael Santana, CEO and President of Wabtec. “Our FLXdrive locomotive, the world’s first 100-percent battery powered locomotive, has proven its potential to slash carbon emissions by up to 30 percent when operating at 6 MWh. But we can’t stop there. By working with GM on Ultium battery and HYDROTEC hydrogen fuel cell technologies, we can accelerate the rail industry’s path to decarbonization and pathway to zero-emission locomotives by leveraging these two important propulsion technologies.”

Last month, Wabtec announced that its FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive—functioning as one unit in a consist that also contained two Tier 4 locomotives—delivered an average of 11% reduction in fuel consumption and GHG emissions for an entire train. These outcomes were the result of a three-month pilot with BNSF Railway in which the FLXdrive prototype with a 2.4 MWh battery was put to the test in revenue service across 13,320 miles of hilly terrain in San Joaquin Valley, California. Wabtec intends to develop a second generation electric locomotive with a battery capacity of 6 MWh.

Under the MOU, Wabtec will bring its expertise in energy management and systems optimization, to develop a heavy haul H2 fueled locomotive that utilizes GM’s battery and fuel cell technologies.

The companies anticipate the GM’s Ultium battery technology to provide the flexibility, efficiency, power and reliability needed for rail. Ultium Cells LLC, GM’s joint venture with LG Energy Solution, is currently constructing battery cell plants in Ohio and Tennessee.

GM’s HYDROTEC hydrogen fuel cell systems will be assembled by Fuel Cell Systems Manufacturing LLC in Brownstown, Michigan, the manufacturing joint venture between General Motors and Honda.

Source: Wabtec