Hydrogen traction project for the European Union’s LIFE programme

traccion con hidrogeno-programa LIFE-Alstom
traccion con hidrogeno-programa LIFE-Alstom

Renfe, together with Alstom and Enagás as the principal partners, has submitted a new project to the European Union’s environmental financing programme, LIFE.

The project concerns railway traction based on a hydrogen fuel cell, batteries and super-capacitors. One of the most significant points of the project is the possibility of reducing a vehicle’s direct emissions by 100% with respect to a vehicle powered by conventional fuels.

The objective of this R&D&i programme is to develop pilot testing using a laboratory train/vehicle and reach conclusions about the technical viability of railway traction using hydrogen on the Spanish railway network. For testing, a tram unit from the 1930s will be used. The tram is known as “Fabiolo”, from the 3400 series, which was reformed in the 1950s. It was used as a tram in Asturias and Valencia in the 1980s and 1990s.

The project includes the development of a supply and refuelling system, adaptation of the tram vehicle as a test unit and regulations and procedures to monitor how the unit runs to compile data on features, performance, emissions, autonomy and noise for comparison with conventional traction systems. At the same time, financial studies on the life cycle of the complete system will be developed.

The programme is especially important with respect to the analysis of urban and interurban railway traffic, which in the case of Renfe refers to the Suburban, conventional Medium Distance and Metric Gauge services.

With a budget of EUR 2.6 million, the project is in line with the Spanish government’s position at the past climate conference in Paris (COP 21) and with the commitment to a 26% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. Moreover, Renfe signed the 2015 Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge in Paris, sponsored by the UIC, which is focused on reducing specific energy consumption and CO2 emissions in 2030 by 50% with respect to 1990.