They will design a propulsion system based on a hydrogen cell for high-speed trains

Isbel Lázaro.
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sistema de propulsión basado en pila de hidrógeno

A consortium made up of ten Spanish companies has come together with the aim of developing and implementing a propulsion system based on a renewable hydrogen fuel cell , being the first time it will be installed on a high-speed train worldwide.

This project, called Hympulso , aims to design a series of technologies applicable to the Talgo 250 versatile train, which would enable the electrification of the railway network through energy generated exclusively from renewable sources, even on those lines that lack catenary.

This initiative is part of the Strategic Economic Recovery and Transformation Program (PERTE) aimed at renewable energy, renewable hydrogen and storage.

Under the direction of Talgo, Hympulso has the participation of Golendus, Ingeteam, Optimus3D, Repsol and Sener as partners. Universidad Pontificia Comillas and Tecnalia collaborate in the project, while Adif participates as an observer.

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This initiative, which has received a subsidy of 6.5 million euros, is part of the Incentive Program for the Innovative Value Chain and Knowledge of Renewable Hydrogen, within the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. Hympulso will take a comprehensive approach, covering the entire renewable hydrogen value chain, from generation to consumption, in the railway system.

Through the Hympulso project, hydrogen supply facilities adapted to the railway sector will be jointly developed, both in mobile and fixed versions. An innovative prototype of a hybrid bimodal train for passengers with gauge change capacity will also be designed, allowing its circulation on conventional and high-speed networks. This train, a pioneer in its category, will be able to use catenary power when available or use hydrogen and batteries in corridors without electrification.

The comprehensive vision of this project is essential, since the adoption of renewable hydrogen in rail transport presents significant technological challenges, requiring the collaboration of various actors in both the public and private spheres at all levels.

Powerful trains with hydrogen cell-based propulsion system

All participants in this project seek to advance their enabling technologies and experience in the field of renewable hydrogen through Hympulso. Talgo aims to develop, manufacture and test dual-hybrid hydrogen battery traction in a specific Talgo 250 train segment, designed for long-distance operations on mixed sections, covering partially electrified and non-electrified sections.

These trains have two technical extreme cars (CET) each, which are currently used to generate electricity for the tractor heads. The latter, which currently run on diesel in sections without overhead lines, will benefit from the Hympulso project by replacing one of these diesel CETs with another equipped with fuel cells and batteries. This configuration will make it possible to supply electricity to the locomotives using completely renewable hydrogen.

Companies involved

It should be noted that Ingeteam will be in charge of the design, manufacture and testing of reversible high-power converters, with the ability to charge batteries from the catenary. Repsol and Golendus will assume responsibility for developing two hydrogen refueling stations. For its part, Repsol will implement a mobile facility, while the Golendus hydrogen plant will be a fixed production and supply facility.

In relation to the hydrogen supply facilities and railway infrastructure, the Sener company will carry out a comprehensive risk analysis and a simulation of the operation of the services. In both cases, a logistics control platform will be developed to monitor the use of hydrogen in the network. Finally, the company Optimus3D , a small and medium-sized company based in Álava, will focus on the research of new materials and processes through additive manufacturing for hydrogen applications, with the aim of achieving greater efficiency and durability.

In relation to the companies that act as observers, Adif intends to expand its knowledge in defining requirements and use cases for the implementation of hydrogen technology in access to railway infrastructure. Adif will be responsible for establishing safety requirements related to infrastructure and interfaces with the vehicle and the refueling facility, as well as the design of standardized recharging facilities.

In addition, it will collaborate on use cases in the hydrogen power platform. Adif will also integrate the complete management of hydrogen power into its hydrogen strategy, and will participate in on-road testing by facilitating the administration of access to the infrastructure.

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