Plug Power ReliOn Fuel cells working on the railroad

October 12, 2015

Railroads safety teams are working hard to improve trackside emergency equipment and help the rail industry maintain its reputation as one of the safest modes of product shipping and travel available. One of the key issues is providing reliable back up power for those occasions when utility-provided power is down.

In order to prevent unintended consequences, top-tier rail companies across the nation, such as BNSF Railway and CSX, are investing in Plug Power’s ReliOn hydrogen fuel cell backup power for their rail-side equipment. ReliOn products provide customers with the low power levels needed for critical railway equipment including crossing gates, positive train control sensors, drag detectors and network communications equipment.

CSX_WV_ppReliOn railroad fuel cells offer several advantages over traditional method for managing power outages, which has meant driving vehicles around their territory during the worst part of a storm to deliver, refuel and guard combustion generators against theft.

Plug Power’s ReliOn fuel cells offer a reliable, proactive, cost-effective and sustainable alternative. Here’s how:

Reliable. Diesel generators have proven unreliable, due to degradation of fuel left in them over time or simple lack of maintenance. Generators that do start are often stolen or have the fuel siphoned out of them. Fuel cell technology is used by railroads to improve the reliability of their railroad assets during commercial power outages. Third-party reliability data substantiates that Plug Power’s ReliOn fuel cells provide availability greater than 99.6%.

Proactive. Railroad fuel cells are installed ahead of storm season at locations where they constantly monitor power levels and turn on automatically as needed during a crisis without any human intervention. Each fuel cell is provided with three to four weeks of fuel for continuous standby power that keeps rail employees off the roads and out of the elements when a severe weather system knocks out the commercial source of power.

Cost-effective. When all factors are taken into consideration, rail customers have found that ReliOn fuel cells are far less expensive to own and maintain than conventional generators. ReliOn fuel cells are nearly vandal-proof and keep railway systems running while maintaining public safety, only rarely needing on-site maintenance as compared to combustion generators’ more intensive maintenance requirements. Fuel cell health and fuel levels are able to be remotely monitored, which means a person doesn’t have to visit the site often, thus saving operations budget. This has given Plug Power’s railroad customers the ability to use their people to take care of other critical tasks and keep trains moving during the worst storm conditions.

Sustainable. Hydrogen fuel cells have no emissions, thus eliminating the carbon footprint of the solution and adding to the sustainability efforts of our railroad customers.

Click here for more information about Plug Power’s ReliOn fuel cell products.

For more information about how CSX is using Plug Power’s ReliOn products, read the presentation they made at the 2014 AREMA conference.