Fortescue & Deutsche Bahn to develop ammonia-powered trains in Germany

A Deutsche Bahn Class V90 diesel locomotive, used for shunting and freight haulage. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Steffen Mokosch.
Click to learn more. A Deutsche Bahn Class V90 diesel locomotive, used for shunting and freight haulage. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Steffen Mokosch.

Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) will collaborate to modify existing diesel engines to run on hydrogen & ammonia fuel. Targeting locomotive & other traction vehicle applications, the pair will utilise Ammonigy’s ammonia cracking technology in their design. We reported on Ammonigy’s “Ammonia Fuel Refinement” unit earlier this year, and how it had been installed and tested in a converted speedboat to simulate the operation of an inland cargo barge. DB reports that a prototype, bench-top system (converted diesel engine plus cracking unit) is currently being tested (including “endurance” and NOx emission testing), with results expected next year.

The collaboration agreement also focuses on the potential for supply chains of hydrogen and ammonia fuel, with FFI acting as producer and distributor throughout Europe. FFI’s ambitious production and supply targets are well-documented, and offtake agreements have already been signed with E.ON, Covestro and JC Bamford. FFI (along with Williams Advanced Engineering) is also developing the “Infinity Train”: a battery-powered locomotive that recharges itself with gravitational energy, theoretically allowing infinite operating hours. For their part, DB is also looking to develop green freight logistics using hydrogen & ammonia fuel, as well as transportation of hydrogen via rail throughout Germany and Europe.

We are saying goodbye to diesel and relying on the latest technologies, including the ammonia-hydrogen engine. This innovative engine makes it possible to continue operating existing diesel vehicles without emissions. Our customers are already traveling by the most climate-friendly means of transport. By 2040, DB will be completely climate-neutral.

DB Board Member for Digitisation & Technology Dr. Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, in her organisation’s official press release, 4 Oct 2022

Fortescue is currently developing its own ammonia-powered locomotives at its R&D facility in Perth, Australia. Deployment of a test vehicle was scheduled for late 2022, and FFI indicates that the new collaboration with DB has the “potential to accelerate Fortescue’s Green Fleet rail delivery program”.

New import terminal for Wilhelmshaven

This week, FFI also signed an agreement with German-based infrastructure developer Tree Energy Solutions (TES) to develop & construct an import terminal in Wilhelmshaven. The new facility will help FFI fulfill its supply agreement with E.ON (5 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year in 2030), though the transport vector for that hydrogen to reach Europe is not specified. FFI will source supply from potential production projects in Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments