HyRail Namibia awarded funding to develop Africa’s first hydrogen-diesel locomotives

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A consortium led by hydrogen application development company, Hyphen Technical, comprised of CMB.TECH, state-owned rail operator TransNamib, the University of Namibia and Traxtion, has been awarded grant funding for the development of Africa’s first dual-fuel hydrogen-diesel locomotives.

The €7.6 million project, called HyRail Namibia, will use Namibian-produced green hydrogen supplied from Cleanergy Namibia’s green hydrogen facility near Walvis Bay to power the hydrogen dual-fuel locomotive consist.

The Hyphen Technical led consortium proposes to convert two traditional diesel-electric locomotives to dual-fuel using hydrogen technology developed over two decades by CMB.TECH, a developer and integrator of hydrogen solutions.

The project is being partly funded through a share of the €30 million of grant funding made available by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

“With the grant support, we will be able to offer TransNamib the experience of operating a locomotive which can run on a clean and cheap fuel produced in Namibia. The tandem set of two dual fuel locomotives with a hydrogen storage carriage in between, will be the first in the world, and has a great potential to offer low-cost logistics, which will bring new opportunities for the country,” said Roy Campe, CTO at CMB.TECH.

The project is expected to take 18 months to complete, is comprised of the conversion of two locomotives to use hydrogen in internal combustion engines, and a hydrogen fuel storage car to store fuel for the locomotives. The prototypes will be built and adapted at the Traxtion Rail Hub in Rosslyn, South Africa, and then moved to Walvis Bay for operation by TransNamib.

Maintenance of the locomotives will take place in Namibia by Traxtion, which will also provide training for TransNamib technical staff. Through this project, TransNamib will be the first state-owned railway in Africa to operate hydrogen powered locomotives. The project pilot aims to pave the way toward conversion of the entire locomotive fleet in Namibia in the future.

“Hyphen Technical and its consortium partners are honored to be chosen to develop Africa’s first green hydrogen powered locomotives under this grant program. We look forward to working with our consortium partners, BMBF and the Government of Namibia in taking this first step towards the decarbonization of Namibia’s railways and take a lead in African rail decarbonization,” added Konrad Boshoff, Hyphen Technical CEO.