Can freight locos run on steam?

Webinar report  18 Nov 2020

 Matt Candy, CEO of Steamology Motion Ltd, is keen to engage with the rail freight industry to establish whether his innovation to run freight locos on steam – by turning water into power – is feasible.

He asked attendees at RFG’s latest webinar in its decarbonisation series to help him discover if the concept is fundamentally flawed or highly applicable – for mainline operations or as part of a bimodal solution.

“If this does not work, we want to fail early and fail fast,” he said.

Steamology has received government funding through Innovate UK under the FOAK (First of a Kind) 2020 Rail Decarbonisation programme and is developing high power zero-emission steam turbine electric solutions to offer an alternative to diesel for Class 66 freight locomotives. This technology is intended to current rolling stock beyond 2040 or could be used as part of new locomotives in future

“The combustion of hydrogen in an oxygen environment to create hot steam is very scalable,” he said. “It emits no Nox, Sox, CO2 or particulates. It is quiet, low maintenance and needs no toxic or scarce materials.

“But, importantly, we need to understand that it makes sense from a commercial point of view.”

Candy is tasked with reaching three key deliverables by March next year:
1)Working demonstrator of high power zero-emission turbine connected to industrial dynamometer
2) Class 66 packaging design
3) Business, certification and standards plan

“We are looking for a vehicle to use as a demonstrator. Maybe all the Class 66s are busy, but if someone can suggest something else, we would be very interested,” Candy explained.

He recognises there are issues which have not yet been developed related to storage of hazardous gases (hydrogen and oxygen), range and time taken to ‘refuel’.  And he suggests that maybe this technology could work as part of a bimodal solution.

“If we partnered with electrification, this could work on the last mile, where the issues of noise and pollution are often most urgent,” he said.

He encourages anyone who is interested to contact him at

Set of slides from webinar available here.