The joint “sH2unter@ports” project is investigating the implementation of a hydrogen-powered shunting train.

The question of how to implement the operation of shunting trains at ports in a climate-neutral manner is now being addressed by a new joint project consisting of six partners from science and industry. The innovative research and development project was launched at a kick-off meeting on 26 January, which was attended by representatives of the partners in Bremen.   

The cooperation partners include Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser GmbH transport authority (evb), the Smart Mobility Institute at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences, the Institute for Energy and Circular Economy at Bremen University of Applied Sciences GmbH (IEKrW – Institut für Energie und Kreislaufwirtschaft an der Hochschule Bremen GmbH), Alstom, bremenports GmbH & Co. KG (bp) and the Hamburg Port Authority AöR.

Together, the project partners are pursuing the common goal of converting shunting rail locomotives in Bremen and Hamburg port areas to operation with hydrogen. The prerequisites and requirements for the conversion are to be explored, the conditions for refuelling are to be determined and safety and legal issues are to be clarified. A concrete implementation plan will be prepared at the end of the project. The project seeks to make an important contribution to achieving carbon neutrality in the port by 2035.

The research and development project is scheduled to run until 31 May 2024 and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport (BMDV) as part of the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP). The funding guideline is coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Management Jülich (PtJ). The project volume totals in excess of 1.2 million euros.

While passenger rail transport is already predominantly electrified and powered by green electricity, shunting trains – especially in the port context – cannot be electrified by overhead lines. Equipping the powerful shunting engines with batteries is not a viable option due to their high energy demand and the available energy density, life cycle costs and charging cycles. This is why the implementation of hydrogen technology is of particular interest for shunting operations.

The engines can be fuelled with green, climate-neutral hydrogen. The energy stored in the hydrogen is converted back into electricity, for example, with fuel cells or by direct combustion. This is used to power the locomotive – without the necessity for any overhead lines. The goal is to find a solution that is as energy efficient as possible.

The findings of the “sH2unter@ports” project should be transferable to other ports and shunting operations. In this way, the project makes an important contribution to decarbonisation. In addition to the climate-friendly conversion of shunting operations, the conversion of train engines to hydrogen offers further prospects for infrastructural changes in the operation of port facilities with green hydrogen.


Source original press release: bremeports GmbH & Ko. KG