Hydrogen train draws international interest


Namibia’s plan to develop Africa’s first hydrogen train has gained international interest from the European Union, Canada and China.

Konrad Boshoff, Chief Executive Officer of Hyphen Technical said the project is generating both locally and internationally from garnering significant local interest from local businesses and entrepreneurs as well as international interest.

The contract that is expected to be signed soon on the introduction of the first hydrogen powered train next year will include the conversion to hydrogen dual fuel of two locomotives and a hydrogen fuel tender wagon.

The project is spearheaded by TransNamib, Hyphen Technical and CMB Tech and includes the University of Namibia (UNAM) as an academic partner.

Konrad Boshoff, Chief Executive Officer of Hyphen Technical told Observer Money this week that a feasibility study on the roll-out of the locomotive conversion technology in Namibia will also be included as well as research into materials compatibility for specific applications on rail as well as the environmental, safety and performance study on hydrogen dual fuel locomotives operating on various corridors in Namibia.

He said the project will include in-service operation and maintenance of the locomotives and fuel tender for revenue-earning, reduced carbon rail transport services. He said locomotives will be tested dynamically and in trial service in the last quarter of 2025.

Boshoff said Namibia is still on track to become the first country in Africa to have hydrogen trains.

“Yes, thus far, no similar hydrogen dual fuel projects have been announced in Africa. There may be some hydrogen fuel cell passenger train projects in planning, but none that have been announced.”

Boshoff said the HyRail project is expected to target moving copper concentrate, cement, manganese, iron ore and steel. “The project will put Namibia on the map as both a producer and an industrial transport user of GH2.”

The National Planning Commission announced recently that after extensive negotiations, the contract has been finalized on the HyRail project.

“The locomotive conversion is anticipated to commence in the latter part of the year, and initial timelines suggest that it will be commissioned before the end of 2025,” the commission said.

According to twi-global.com, a hydrogen train is one that uses hydrogen as a fuel, either within a hydrogen internal combustion engine or through a reaction with oxygen within a hydrogen fuel cell. All hydrogen powered rail vehicles, whether large or small, are categorised as ‘hydrail,’ whether the fuel is used for the traction motors, auxiliary systems, or both. Hydrail vehicles currently tend to be hybrids, including renewable energy storage like batteries or super capacitors to supplement the hydrogen fuel, improving efficiency and reducing the amount of hydrogen storage space required.

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