Study reveals hydrogen's potential to reduce rail emissions and improve fuel efficiency

2 mins read

An independent trial of Advanced Hydrogen Technologies (AHT) Group’s carbon clean and capture device has reported significantly lower emissions and increased fuel efficiency from a Class 08 locomotive.

During the breakthrough two-week testing on a 1960s shunter – carried out at the world-class Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre in the West Midlands – overall exhaust gas emissions were reduced by 22% and heavy particulates by 20%, while diesel efficiency savings of 8% were achieved too.

This revolutionary study is a joint venture partnership between cleantech pioneers AHT and Harry Needle Railroad Company (HNRC) who are leaders in the storage and maintenance of rail vehicles. It forms part of the Clean Futures programme recently run by the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO), which includes the unique Rail Development & Test facility at its £32m site in Dudley.

The first week of testing saw AHT’s revolutionary four cell system hydrogen generator ‘clean’ the HNRC’s Class 08 locomotive by removing residual carbon build up, which is worst in diesel and older engines, while the following week a bespoke ‘capture’ device was added, which further reduced harmful emissions and particulates to complete the process.

Marcus Mayers of HNRC said: “This was the ideal opportunity to solve the pressing issue of how to measure and quantify the benefits of hydrogen, which has been holding us back for years. Access to both AHT’s specialist technology and BCIMO’s outstanding testing facilities has given us the data and backing we need to have a proven business investment case for upgrading our locomotives.”

AHT CEO, Ben Kattenhorn, commented: “These landmark results are further proof that our award-winning proprietary technology reduces carbon footprint and fuel costs, while helping businesses meet their net zero targets. We also know these figures get even better over time, because a recent 18-month study on HGVs reduced the worst emissions and particulates by over 91%.

“Rail is one of the sectors most under scrutiny, but Engine Carbon Clean and  Capture offers an immediate solution – also restoring engine efficiency and power, lowering maintenance costs, extending the lifespan of assets and aligning with the new ESG requirements of the International Financial Reporting Standards mandate.”

During testing, a baseline reading was compared with those generated post clean after the R4 hydrogen generator was fitted, which determined the average 8% fuel saving. Likewise, individual emissions reductions of 27% Carbon Monoxide, 8% Carbon Dioxide, 22% Nitric Oxide, 12% Nitrogen Dioxide and 39% Formaldehyde were achieved.

The capture device further reduced particulate matter by a fifth (20%) and specifically those less than 2.5 micron in diameter, which are strongly associated with detrimental health effects. Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 remain airborne for long periods and can be drawn deeper into the lungs and bloodstream.

The way the hydrogen is delivered means it is not detrimental to any component within the engine - it only targets carbon build-up – so streamlining heavy duty commercial vehicles in this way can benefit a business from both a cost-cutting and environmental perspective and without removing any parts or using any harsh chemicals.