Wabtec, GM collaborating on advanced battery technologies for locomotives

Wabtec (NYSE: WAB) and General Motors (NYSE: GM) are working together to bring battery and fuel cell technology to the freight locomotive.

The two will try to develop and market Ultium battery technology from GM and HYDROTEC hydrogen fuel cell systems for Wabtec locomotives. The collaboration consists of a non-binding letter of intent in which Wabtec will contribute its expertise in energy management and system optimization, while GM will contribute the advanced technology it has developed for batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, according to the companies.

“By working with GM on Ultium battery and HYDROTEC hydrogen fuel cell technologies, we can accelerate the rail industry’s journey to decarbonization and zero-emission locomotives by leveraging these two key propulsion technologies,” said Rafael Santana, President and CEO of Wabtec on Tuesday release.

Last month, Wabtec released the results of a pilot program with BNSF (NYSE: BRK.B) and the San Joaquin Pollution Control District, where Wabtec has its Battery electric locomotive FLXdrive. Wabtec found that the heavy-duty freight locomotive, operating at 6 MWh, can help reduce a train’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30%.

The company plans to commercialize the second generation FLXdrive fleet within the next few years.

Meanwhile, GM is building battery cell plants in Ohio and Tennessee as part of its joint venture with LG Energy Solution. And its HYDROTEC fuel cell systems are assembled by Brownstown, Michigan, Fuel Cell Systems Manufacturing, itself a joint venture between General Motors and Honda.

In January, GM said It would work with Navistar and JB Hunt Transport to bring fuel cell-powered long-haul electric trucks to series production by 2024.

“Rail networks are critical to GM’s transportation and ability to serve our customers across North America, and Wabtec’s bold plan to decarbonise heavy haulage and other locomotive applications is helping our vision of a world with zero accidents, zero emissions and without driving traffic jams. “Said GM President Mark Reuss. “Wabtec’s decision to use the Ultium battery and HYDROTEC hydrogen fuel cell systems from GM further confirms our advanced technology and demonstrates its versatility.”

Other railway companies are also working with hydrogen technology. Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP) said last december that it starts a pilot project to develop a hydrogen-powered locomotive.

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