French railway services company Alstom is producing the first zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered passenger train. It will be used on Germany’s Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line.
Zero-emissions rail travel
On non-electrified rail networks, diesel is the primary power source. To make these networks more environmentally friendly, Alstrom developed a hydrogen-powered passenger train: the Coradia iLint.
The Coradia iLint is a zero-emissions vehicle, producing only water as a waste product. Thanks to its electric engine, it’s also far quieter than current diesel models.
The key figures
Roof-mounted fuel tanks store 94kg of hydrogen, enough fuel for roughly 800km (497 miles) of travel. The hydrogen is then mixed with oxygen in the air to generate electricity, which is stored in lithium-ion batteries near the wheels and distributed for maximum efficiency by the smart management system.
Thanks to this system, excess energy can be stored and delivered when and where it is needed most. The train is capable at travelling at speeds of up to 140km (87mph). It can carry up to 300 passengers, 150 of whom are seated.
Alstom are aiming to have 14 trains rail-ready by the end of 2017 for Lower Saxony’s network. However, the trains won’t be in service until 2018.
Electrifying the network
There are over 4,000 diesel-powered train cars in Germany alone, so it’s no surprise that the European nation is trendsetting when it comes to eco-friendly rail.
The Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line, which runs through Lower Saxony, is just the start of Germany’s eco-friendly rail plans. 4 more German regions, or Länder, have requested Alstom trains, and the French company predicts orders of between 40 and 70 before 2018.
The government of neighbouring region Schleswig-Holstein is taking their electrification plans a step further. They intend to electrify the region’s entire 1,100km (683 mile) railway network by 2025. Like Lower Saxony, hydrogen fuel cell, or ‘hydrail’, technology will be used.
To facilitate this switch to environmentally friendly energy, Alstom provides not only fuel and maintenance, but also a complete hydrogen energy infrastructure.
Alstom has developed their hydrail technology to be as cost-effective as possible, but it’s still more expensive than the diesel alternatives. Despite this, other European countries have expressed an interest in adding the Coradia iLint to their network.