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TRAINING & STAFF DEVELOPMENT


The UK’s fi rst


hydrogen powered locomotive


The IMechE’s fi rst Railway Challenge in July 2012 produced some innovative entries – including a hydrogen-powered locomotive built by a team from the University of Birmingham. Stephen Kent, a teaching fellow at the university’s Centre for Railway Research & Education, told us more.


T


he fi rst Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) Railway Challenge was won by


a team of graduate engineers from Interfl eet Technology’s Derby offi ce – but although theirs was the victorious loco on the day, it wasn’t the only entry of interest.


A University of Birmingham team entered the UK’s fi rst hydrogen powered locomotive into the challenge, held at Stapleford Miniature Railway near Melton Mowbray on July 1, using 10¼” gauge machines.


The hydrogen-powered loco was powered by an off-the-shelf 1.1kW fuel cell, fed by a ‘solid state’ hydrogen store, capable of safely storing large quantities of hydrogen at relatively low pressures (under 10 bar). It also has permanent magnet DC motors, and an advanced control system.


Team member Stephen Kent, a teaching fellow at the university’s Centre for Railway Research & Education, told us: “The fuel cell and hydrogen store worked quietly and effi ciently all weekend, and enabled our 320kg loco to haul a 4000kg trailing load.”


The inaugural Railway Challenge saw four student and apprentice teams competing against each other to design and manufacture the best and most effi cient small-scale locomotive – and the IMechE expects next


42 | rail technology magazine Aug/Sep 12


year’s event to be bigger and better following great feedback and interest.


Philippa Oldham, head of transport at the IMechE, and one of the Railway Challenge


the locomotive up a gradient.


Stephen Head, the Interfl eet team’s Project Manager said: “We’re delighted with our win, and it has made the hundreds of man- hours spent designing, building, commissioning and testing the railway locomotive really worthwhile.


“Few people have the opportunity to design and build a locomotive this early in their careers and the fi rst-hand experience we’ve gained is hugely valuable.”


The other two practical challenges focused on traction and ride comfort. Teams were also required to make a technical submission


scrutineers said: “This was an extremely challenging competition where teams had to prepare a business case, fi nance, design, and build a locomotive from scratch.


“It was hugely impressive to see the ingenious work of all four teams in making it to the competition, but Interfl eet were deserving winners. The Interfl eet locomotive was the most reliable on the day, and it was the most effective locomotive at storing energy – one of the key parts of the competition.”


A central part of the competition was the Energy Challenge where the locomotive had to store energy during braking and use it to drive


and prepare a business case.


The four teams taking part in this year’s event were: Interfl eet Technology (fi rst place), Manchester Metropolitan University (second place), Birmingham University (third place) and an independent team of apprentices/ graduates from Derby (fourth place).


RTM’s interview with Philippa Oldham about the impact on rail jobs and skills of Government investment is on page 38.


FOR MORE INFORMATION


www.imeche.org/knowledge/industries/ Railway/RailwayChallenge/TeamGuidance


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