Steaming Into the Future With Emission-Free Transport
Author: Elise Catterall
Germany is making history by introducing the world’s first zero-emission passenger train, the ‘Hydrail’ to replace polluting diesel trains.
Germany, in an effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, is making history by rolling out the worlds’ first completely emission-free passenger train, the ‘Hydrail’. The train, created by French transit company Alstrom, is powered solely by hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen. The first of the rolling stock will be operational in early 2018 and has the potential to revolutionise rail in Europe and across the world.
The train is intended to be an alternative to the 4000-plus diesel trains operating in Germany now, servicing non-electrified lines. An estimated 20% of rail traffic in Europe is on diesel-burning trains.
The hydrogen-powered train uses the same physical equipment as diesel trains, however, unlike diesel trains, its only by-products are water and steam. It is also substantially quieter than its diesel counterparts – 60% quieter – yet is comparable in its cost, speed and capacity.
The technical innovation that enabled the development of the train incorporated large fuel cells to combine the hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, which is then stored in lithium-ion batteries, available for immediate use or stored for later use. Due to the sophistication of the technology, there has been no compromise in efficiency, with the train able to reach speeds of 140km/h and able to travel approximately 800km on a single tank of hydrogen.
Development of hydrogen fuel cells has been a focus in the transport industry for some years. There are a number of small street-car systems utilising hydrogen power, notably in Aruba and Dubai, but these are limited to local, light rail operations.
Car manufacturers are also focusing on hydrogen fuel technology. Toyota debuted its first commercial hydrogen fuel cell car, the Mirai, in 2015, the technology for that vehicle was in development for around 20 years. A key barrier to the uptake of hydrogen vehicles is the establishment of hydrogen filing stations. Over the coming years, with Australian states committed to low emission vehicles strategies, this is likely to change.
- Until the infrastructure for hydrogen vehicles is built choose other low emission options like the Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy vehicles http://www.toyota.com.au/tree-day
- Swap the car for other modes of transport. http://planetark.orgdisplay/1186
- Lobby your state government to commit to low and zero-emission vehicle policies and strategies: http://www.australia.gov.au/about-government/contact-government/contact-ministers-members-and-senators
- CNN Tech http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/12/technology/germany-hydrogen-powered-train/
- Railway Technology http://www.railway-technology.com/features/featuregerman-state-thrusts-hydrogen-powered-hydrail-into-the-spotlight-4928956/
- Government of South Australia http://www.lowemissionvehicles.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/113834/DOCS_AND_FILES-7243883-v1-South_Australia_s_Low_Emission_Vehicle_Strategy.pdf
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.