The world of clean energy technology is seeing a lot of important developments these days. One area that gets a lot of focus is transportation and manufacturing. Commercial trains are an important part of both of these industries, all over the world. However, diesel-powered trains dump a LOT of pollution into the atmosphere.
Those days may be over.
Germany has just introduced the world’s first hydrogen-powered trains, making an eco-friendly commercial train industry a reality. The French company Alstom has built two Coradia iLint trains that are now running through multiple cities throughout northern Germany.
The French company doesn’t plan to stop with just the two trains, either. Over the next three years, Alstom is set to build and put into service 14 more trains that produce no emissions in the Lower Saxony state.
We can thank science for the clean emissions produced by the hydrogen trains. Onboard fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. The only emissions from this process are water and steam, and whatever energy that isn’t immediately used is stored in lithium batteries, making the entire process clean and efficient.
One tank of hydrogen will power one of the Coradia iLint trains for about the same range as a diesel-powered alternative—about 600 miles. Many communities throughout Germany are fighting to reduce pollution, so the hydrogen trains are a big win.
There is a fairly substantial cost associated with the hydrogen trains—they’re far more expensive to purchase than a traditional diesel train. But in the long run, they cost much less to run than the fossil-fuel guzzling diesels. That means with a little budget analysis most communities can find a way to make the hydrogen trains a viable reality.
Alstom is counting on that, as many other countries have already expressed interest in adding hydrogen trains to their rail systems, too. European countries like Norway, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Britain, as well as Canada, have all said they’d like to move to the eco-friendly hydrogen options. France is among the countries that are the most serious, as they’ve announced that they want the first hydrogen train to be in service by 2022.