Deutsche Bahn and Fortescue have partnered to develop an ammonia-hydrogen engine

Marketa Horpeniakova, Published on 07/10/2022
Deutsche Bahn and Fortescue have partnered to develop an ammonia-hydrogen engine
@hpgruesen on Pixabay

The cooperation aims to promote climate-neutral mobility.


In the first project, Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Australian energy company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) will work to modify diesel engines for locomotives and traction vehicles so that they can be operated on ammonia and hydrogen. In addition to the development of emission-free propulsion technologies, the agreement also provides for cooperation in logistics and supply chains for green fuels.

„We are saying goodbye to diesel and relying on the latest technologies, including the ammonia-hydrogen engine. This innovative engine makes it possible to continue operating existing diesel vehicles without emissions. Our customers are already travelling by the most climate-friendly means of transport. By 2040, DB will be completely climate-neutral,“ said Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, DB Board Member for Digitisation and Technology.

The ammonia-hydrogen engine is based on an existing type of diesel engine. This is modified so that it can run on green ammonia and green hydrogen. The advantage over a pure hydrogen engine is that ammonia has a higher energy density than liquid hydrogen and is easier to transport and store.

The key technology of the ammonia-hydrogen engine is a "cracker" from the Stuttgart-based company Ammonigy. This cracker splits a small part of the ammonia outside the engine into hydrogen and nitrogen. The hydrogen thus produced is then mixed with the remaining ammonia as an ignition gas to ensure CO2-free combustion. DB and FFI are jointly developing this technology further, including endurance tests and emission measurements.

The new partnership agreement also promotes cooperation between the two organizations in the area of green supply chains for hydrogen and ammonia - specifically their production, transportation, and distribution. FFI intends to produce hydrogen in large quantities and sell it worldwide in the form of green ammonia. DB is currently testing various solutions for hydrogen use and could be a customer with a large internal demand. At the same time, its subsidiary DB Cargo is developing efficient and green logistics concepts to bring hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives such as ammonia to the industry.

„Climate-neutral mobility starts with green supply chains on the railways. Today we can already transport hydrogen in liquid form in conventional tank wagons. This is efficient and uncomplicated. Our goal is to develop further logistics solutions for hydrogen because rail is the most climate-friendly form of transport. One train can replace 52 trucks,“ commented Sigrid Nikutta, DB Board Member for Cargo.

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