Canadian National (CN) Rail believes that shipments of hydrogen by rail could one day grow to exceed the capacity currently devoted to crude oil shipments. As North America begins to increase the production and consumption of hydrogen as a fuel source for many different purposes, predictions like this suggest that a hydrogen economy is well on its way.
Rail is interested in more than just transporting hydrogen, too. Canadian Pacific (CP) is planning on using hydrogen as a fuel source to directly power its locomotives. Using fuel cells from the company Ballard, the international railroad operator plans to trial the technology in a full-sized locomotive.
Hydrogen is one of many different solutions to reduce greenhouse gas and carbon emissions. From directly-powered hydrogen internal combustion engines to hydrogen-powered electric fuel cells, energy industry experts are watching this technology develop since it, along with political pressure, could quickly be seen as an alternative for fossil fuels – even in trucking.
Heavy duty truck manufacturers are working on developing hydrogen fuel Class 8 trucks. Nikola is one example of a heavy truck manufacturer who predicts that hydrogen vehicles will be competing with diesel in terms of both cost and emissions in the not-too-distant future.
One of the major drawbacks from hydrogen trucks is that the infrastructure doesn’t exist yet to allow for their adoption in most places. However, with rail talking about shipping it and manufacturers talking about running on it, hydrogen may very well become a Class 8 truck fuel capable of rivaling battery-electric vehicles as the race to net-zero carries on.