Hydrogen-powered passenger trains enter service in Germany

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The Alstom iLINT train at its public launch at the Innotrans trade show in Berlin in 2016.
Keith Fender
HAMBURG, Germany – The world’s first passenger train powered only by hydrogen fuel cells entered service this weekend in northwestern Germany. It has replaced a diesel-powered train on the route between Cuxhaven and Buxtehude/Bremerhaven.

The train, built by Alstom in Germany, is powered by hydrogen fuel cells that combine hydrogen and oxygen (from the air) to generate electricity powering traction motors. It also has lithium-ion battery packs to store energy, so its performance is similar to that of electric multiple unit equpment. The train, known as the ‘iLINT,’ was first unveiled as a prototype at Innotrans in Berlin in 2016 and since then has been undergoing testing to gain safety approval for regular passenger use.

Alstom has a contract to supply 14 of the trains to the Lower Saxony regional government, which plans to use them to operate regional services on routes that have not been equipped with overhead electrification. Another 26 are on order for regional services north of Frankfurt beginning in 2020.

The hydrogen fuel cells used in the Alstom train are made by Canadian firm Hydrogenics. Another Canadian firm Ballard is working with German train manufacturer Siemens to produce a hydrogen-fueled train due in service in the next year.

Industrial gas company Linde supplies the hydrogen from industrial production, however, longer term, the production onsite at the train’s shop is planned. That would use electrolysis, the process of using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, with the electricity produced by Northern Germany’s large scale wind energy industry.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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