RSSB evaluating next phase of hydrogen fuel cells in rail
Posted: 31 October 2022 | Elliot Robinson (Editorial Assistant - Global Railway Review) | No comments yet
RSSB have established a research project to begin investigating the safe and efficient roll-out of hydrogen fuel cells in rail.
The Rail Safety and Standards Board has begun investigating the essential technical questions for safe and efficient roll-out of hydrogen fuel cells, starting with the suitability of existing standards and the boundaries of responsibility between different organisations.
Hydrogen in rail
Hydrogen is very different than diesel or mainline electricity. It brings significant, and different, safety risks. Some may be relatively obvious, such as the risk of hydrogen gas combustion under very high pressure. Others are less obvious, such as where on rail vehicles, and on which routes, hydrogen storage tanks should be installed. Existing track infrastructure will affect whether this can be under a vehicle or above it, each of which will have their own additional safety issues. The number and complexity of the questions, and the necessary permutations of them, are formidable.
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For this reason, RSSB has established a research project to evaluate the ‘next phase’ of hydrogen fuel cells in rail. There are five essential questions to consider, and the research group has now reported on two of them.
The first issue is the suitability of existing standards and whether there are any gaps in existing standards. The second topic of the report looks at the different boundaries of responsibility when including hydrogen fuel cells within the operational railway.
This report marks the first step in enabling the roll-out of hydrogen to be safe, efficient and commercially viable.