GM batteries and hydrogen fuel cells to be adapted for low-carbon trains
As it eyes the future of sustainable transport through the development of advanced batteries and hydrogen fuel cell technologies, General Motors is now expanding these ambitions to include the world of freight. The automaker has entered a new agreement with rail technology outfit Wabtec to develop new eco-friendly powertrains for locomotives, building on the company's recent groundbreaking moves in the area.
Last month, Wabtec showed off the world's first battery-electric locomotive, which was demonstrated as part of a hybrid system that cut diesel use of the entire vehicle by 11 percent. The company is looking to build on its early success with a bigger and better version it says could cut fuel consumption and carbon emissions by up to 30 percent, and which could enter use in the coming years.
It will now have access to GM's expertise in powertrain technology as it pushes ahead with its vision. The pair will work together to develop train-oriented versions of GM's Ultium battery technology, which will underpin the forthcoming all-electric Hummer, and its Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell power cubes.
“The rail industry is on the cusp of a sustainable transformation with the introduction of batteries and hydrogen to power locomotive fleets,” says 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.”