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article imageWorld's first hydrogen fuel cell powered train to run in Germany

By Ken Hanly     Sep 17, 2018 in Technology
French railway manufacturer Alstom has placed the first hydrogen fuel cell powered train into commercial service in Lower Saxony Germany. The cells are already in use in cars, trucks, and even airplanes.
The Coradia iLint
There are two models of Alstom's train called the Coradia iLint which will begin service in Lower Saxony, Germany. The trains run on electricity produced by the hydrogen fuel cells that turn hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. The trains have a top speed of 140 kilometers an hour. The trains are fueled by a mobile hydrogen filling station.
The two trains will travel on around 100 kilometers or 62 miles of rail line between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervorde and Buxtehude.
Alstom's CEO's announcement:
Henri Poupart-Lafarge chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Alstom said: "The world's first hydrogen fuel cell train is entering passenger service and is ready for serial production. The Coradia iLint heralds a new era in emission-free rail transport. It is an innovation that results from French-German teamwork and exemplifies successful cross-border cooperation."
Hydrogen as fuel has a great future
The European Commission claims that hydrogen has great potential for clean efficient power in stationaary, portable, and transport application.
Hydrogen fuel cells are already being used in vehicles around the world. A fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses are already in operation in Aberdeen Scotland. Toyota is heavily investing in the technology and hopes to develop a car for the mass market as discussed in a Digital Journal article.
The Lower Saxony minister of Economy and Transport, Bernd Althusmann claimed that the Coradia iLint's emission free technology would provide a good environment-friendly alternative to the present diesel trains on non-electrified rail lines. The trains will be much quieter than dirty diesel trains. Only steam and water and not carbon dioxide are the byproduct emitted by the trains.
Advantage of the new trains
Alstom project manager Stefan Schrank said: “Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run.” The new trains can travel 1,000 km on one tank full of hydrogen. It only takes about 15 minutes to refuel the train. By 2021 Alston hopes to have another 14 trains ready to roll.
Using fuel cells to power trains is one of the most practical and environmentally friendly alternatives to diesel powered trains. Batteries are impractical with trains being so heavy. While electrifying tracks is a workable alternative, it is very expensive. To add just one kilometer or 0.6 miles of electrification costs about 1.2 million euros or $1.4 million dollars. Fuel cell powered trains are much cheaper.
More about Fuel cell, trains operated by electricity, Alstom