First hydrogen-powered prepare hits the tracks in Germany

French train-building firm Alstom constructed two hydrogen-powered trains and delivered them to Germany final weekend, the place they’re going to zoom alongside a 62-mile stretch of monitor that runs from the northern cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde, and Buxtehude. The new trains exchange their diesel-powered counterparts and are the primary of their sort, however they’re doubtless not the final. Alstom is contracted to ship 14 extra hydrogen-powered trains, known as Coradia iLint trains, earlier than 2021.

The trains are an preliminary step towards decreasing Germany’s transportation-related emissions, a sector that has been intractable for coverage makers within the nation. But hydrogen gasoline faces some chicken-and-egg-type issues. Namely, hydrogen is tough to retailer, and making it a really zero-emissions supply of gasoline requires renewable electrical energy to carry out water electrolysis. The extra frequent possibility for creating hydrogen gasoline includes pure fuel reforming, which isn’t a carbon-neutral course of.

The benefits of hydrogen gasoline cells are that—in contrast to battery-powered autos—refueling a hydrogen-powered car is simply as quick as a car powered by fossil fuels. No sitting round and charging in a single day is required. Trains have a tendency to not be battery-powered after they’re electrical, nonetheless, as a result of they’re so heavy. Electric prepare methods have a tendency to make use of catenary methods, with electrified cables offering electrical energy to the prepare. But over lengthy distances, establishing an exterior electrical energy supply will be costly.

Paul Mutolo, the director of External Partnerships for the Energy Materials Center at Cornell University, stated in an announcement that he thought hydrogen-powered trains are an important concept. “Germany, a worldwide chief in growth of hydrogen gasoline cell expertise, supplies one other good instance for the United States to comply with. Heavy-duty transportation is the following marketplace for hydrogen gasoline cell merchandise.”

For now, the 2 Alstom trains refuel at Bremervörde from “a 40-foot-high steel container next to the tracks” on the station, the prepare builder stated. The firm didn’t elaborate on how the hydrogen gasoline is equipped, and it didn’t reply to requests for remark.

A press launch famous {that a} “stationary filling station” can be being constructed to serve the extra 14 trains. It is predicted to be accomplished by 2021.

Alstom famous that every of its trains has a variety of 1,000km (621 miles), so it will probably successfully refuel as soon as and run by way of the system all through the remainder of the day. The trains can obtain a high velocity of 140km/h (87mph). Excess power that’s not used to maneuver the prepare ahead is saved in an extra battery. Because gasoline cells energy electrical motors in gasoline cell autos, they’re additionally quieter than diesel locomotives.

An concern, in fact, is price. It’s unclear what all of the trains price, though Alstom’s press launch says that Lower Saxony, the German state the place the trains will run, supported the acquisition of the 14 further trains with €81 million ($94.5 million). Additionally, “The federal government has actively supported the development and testing of the new drive technology in Lower Saxony by providing funds from the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology.”

Listing picture by René Frampe, Alstom

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