BNSF, Caterpillar & Chevron Announce Hydrogen Locomotive Demonstration Project

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Progress Rail, a Caterpillar Inc. Company, BNSF Railway Company and Chevron U.S.A. Inc., a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to advance the demonstration of a locomotive powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The goal of the demonstration is to confirm the feasibility and performance of hydrogen fuel for use as a viable alternative to traditional fuels for line-haul rail. Hydrogen has the potential to play a significant role as a lower-carbon alternative to diesel fuel for transportation, with hydrogen fuel cells becoming a means to reduce emissions.

Under the MOU, the parties are working toward reaching definitive agreements on a demonstration with three primary objectives. First, Progress Rail plans to design and build a prototype hydrogen fuel cell locomotive for line-haul and/or other types of rail service. Second, Chevron expects to develop the fueling concept and infrastructure to support this use of the locomotive. Lastly, the prototype hydrogen fuel cell locomotive is expected to be demonstrated on BNSF’s lines for a mutually agreed upon period of time.

“Caterpillar has made great strides in moving our advanced power technology forward. Our Progress Rail team will leverage that knowledge and experience toward a hydrogen fuel cell locomotive,” said Joe Creed, Caterpillar group president of Energy and Transportation. “Working with Chevron and BNSF will allow us to advance hydrogen technology across the industry.”

“BNSF is pleased to collaborate with Chevron and Progress Rail in piloting locomotives powered by hydrogen fuel cells,” commented John Lovenburg, vice president of Environmental for BNSF. “This technology could one day be a lower-carbon solution for line-haul service, as it has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and remain cost competitive.”

“Chevron is dedicated to scaling up its hydrogen business to help meet the needs of customers who want to reduce the lifecycle carbon emissions of their operations,” said Jeff Gustavson, president of Chevron New Energies. “Our work with Progress Rail and BNSF is an important step toward advancing new use cases for hydrogen in heavy duty transport, as we seek to create a commercially viable hydrogen economy.”

As previously announced, Caterpillar Inc. is collaborating with Chevron for the demonstration of hydrogen projects in transportation and stationary power applications.

The proposed demonstration project is subject to the negotiation of definitive agreements with customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval. If established, additional details about the hydrogen locomotive demonstration, including where the initial pilot will take place and its timing, will be released at a later date.

© 2021 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.