New hydrogen project for the port railways

26 Jan 2023 09:54 Environment

Joint project "sH2unter@ports" researches implementation of a hydrogen-powered shunting locomotive . The question of how the operation of shunting locomotives in the port can be implemented in a climate-neutral way is now being addressed by a new joint project consisting of six partners from science and industry. The innovative research and development project will be launched at a kick-off meeting in Bremen on 26 January.

The cooperation partners are made up of Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser GmbH (evb), the Smart Mobility Institute at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences, the Institute for Energy and Circular Economy at Bremen University of Applied Sciences GmbH (IEKrW), Alstom, bremenports GmbH & Co. KG (bp) and the Hamburg Port Authority AöR.

The project partners are working together on the goal of converting shunting locomotives in Bremen and Hamburg port areas to hydrogen operation. The prerequisites and requirements for the conversion are to be researched, the conditions for refuelling determined and safety and legal issues clarified. At the end of the project there will be a concrete implementation plan. The project should make an important contribution to achieving CO2 neutrality in the port by 2035.

While passenger rail transport is already predominantly electrified and powered by green electricity, shunting locomotives - especially also in the port context - cannot be electrified by overhead lines. Equipping the powerful shunting locomotives with batteries is disadvantageous due to their high energy demand and not yet possible due to the available energy density, life cycle costs and charging cycles. For this reason, hydrogen technology is interesting for shunting operations.

The locomotives can be fuelled with green, climate-neutral hydrogen. The energy stored in the hydrogen is converted back into electricity, for example with fuel cells or by direct combustion. This is used to power the locomotive - without any overhead lines. The goal is to find the most energy-efficient solution possible.

The results of the "sH2unter@ports" project should be transferable to other ports and marshalling yards. In this way, the project makes an important contribution to decarbonisation. In addition to the climate-friendly conversion of shunting operations, the conversion of locomotives to hydrogen offers further perspectives for infrastructural changes in the operation of port facilities with green hydrogen.

The research and development project is expected to run until 31 May 2024 and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport as part of the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme. The funding directive is coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Management Jülich (PtJ). The project volume totals over 1.2 million euros.

Contact person:

  • Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser GmbH (evb): Sebastian Doderer, Head of Logistics Division
  • Institute for Energy and Circular Economy at Bremen University of Applied Sciences GmbH (IEKrW): Prof. Dr. Martin Wittmaier, Institute Director
  • Smart Mobility Institute at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Benjamin Wagner vom Berg, Institute Director
  • ALSTOM Lokomotiven Service GmbH (Alstom): Jörg Schulze, Customer Director Shunting Locomotives
  • Hamburg Port Authority AöR: Matthias Eiden, Traffic Engineer Railway Development
  • bremenports GmbH & Co. KG (bp): Sabine Müller, Team Leader Environment and Sustainability, Insa Pohlenga, Project Manager

New hydrogen project for the port railways

Press contact

Hamburg Port Authority (HPA)

Sinje Pangritz

HPA Press Spokesperson

Phone: +49 40 42 84 7-2301