dg8 design and engineering, a division of Icomera, has supported the project to design, build and commission HydroFLEX, the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train. Working as part of the ENGIE Solutions family, dg8 and Icomera are committed to accelerating the transition towards a carbon-neutral world; perfectly aligned with this vision, the HydroFLEX project is expected to play a key role in decarbonising the British railway network, by helping to replace diesel-only trains by 2040.
The HydroFLEX initiative has been jointly led by rolling stock asset manager Porterbrook and The University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE). The project involves the conversion of an existing Class 319 train, fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell, giving it the ability to run autonomously on hydrogen power on non-electrified routes. HydroFLEX recently started operational trials on the UK’s mainline railway. Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, commented: “Porterbrook is committed to innovation and the delivery of a carbon neutral and sustainable railway. The mainline testing of HydroFLEX achieves another important milestone on this journey.”
As part of the HydroFLEX project, dg8 has been responsible for the train’s mechanical installation design, including how best to integrate key components such as the hydrogen fuel tanks, fuel cell and battery module. In addition, dg8 supported the electrical installation design, working to ensure that the electrical design conformed to the railway industry’s specifications and best practices. Finally, the dg8 team undertook structural calculations to verify that the items installed on HydroFLEX met structural compliance requirements, and provides support to validate the wider approvals process.
“Working collaboratively with a number of skilled partners, we’re proud to have been involved in this ambitious project to make the vision of the hydrogen powered train a reality here in the UK”, said Mike Mortimer, Director of dg8. Peter Kingsland, Icomera’s SVP for the UK, added: “Icomera’s acquisition of dg8 in 2019 has enhanced our capability to engage with ever more complex rail technology projects at the design stage, and take them from concept through to implementation. Working closely with the dg8 team, we look forward to continue supporting forward-thinking initiatives, such as HydroFLEX, which promote green mobility”.
Other industry partners who have been involved in the delivery of HydroFLEX include: Chrysalis Rail for installation work; Denchi Group for traction batteries; Ballard Power Systems for the fuel cell; Luxfer for hydrogen storage tanks; Ricardo Rail for approvals support; Fuel Cell Systems for hydrogen refuelling equipment; Jeff Vehicles for engineering support on fuel cell control; SNC Lavalin for development of a new maintenance regime; DEU for supply of integration steelwork and miscellaneous installation materials; Aura for exterior livery design.