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Alstom unveils ‘breakthrough’ hydrogen-powered train at InnoTrans

Alstom has unveiled a zero-emissions train which is powered by hydrogen at the InnoTrans trade fair in Berlin yesterday.

The Coradia iLint is a CO2-emission-free regional train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, meaning it can act as an alternative to diesel. It produces steam and water instead of greenhouse gases, as well as lower levels of noise.

Alstom is offering the train to operators as part of a complete package, including maintenance and infrastructure services.

Henri Poupart-Lafrage, chair and CEO of Alstom, said: “Alstom is proud to launch a breakthrough innovation in the field of clean transportation which will complete its Coradia range of regional trains.

“It shows our ability to work in close collaboration with our customers and develop a train in only two years.”

There are no plans at the moment to deploy the train in the UK, but regional leaders in Germany signed letters of intent in 2014 for emissions-free trains.

Efforts to improve the sustainability of the UK rail sector are largely focused around electrification at the moment, but many regional routes have declared a need for more diesel trains that can substitute older rolling stock or respond to demand in the short term.

The UK’s first hydrogen-powered locomotive was built by University of Birmingham students for the IMechE’s first Railway Challenge in July 2012.

(Image c. Alstom)

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Nickk   21/09/2016 at 20:30

Oh why cannot these news articles tell the truth, that the power source is "local emission free". If countries had a surfeit of renewable energy, then maybe this could be used to make the hydrogen: the UK has to run its gas-fired power stations continuously so there will always be emissions involved with any ground-based transport except by foot or bicycle.

Chris M   22/09/2016 at 01:06

Well we've been waiting for 'the hydrogen economy' to arrive since I was a small boy. As Nickk states, it is not clever to think of hydrogen as a traditional fuel - it is essentially a way of transporting energy. That energy has to be created from another source. If you burn fossil fuel to use with hydrogen you achieve nothing worthwhile. Now what is the real upfront cost of hi-tech fuel cells and impact resistant fuel tanks capable of storing super-cooled hydrogen? How does this compare with the diesel alternatives? Can hydrogen powered trains run as far or fast as diesels, can they refuel as quickly, are they quieter and cleaner for the users and those living by the lineside? We need answers to all those questions before this can be seen as a real advance over current technology.

Jason   22/09/2016 at 08:29

The fuel cell trainsets have the same bodies, bogies and drive equipment as the conventional diesels, and the two units will directly replace two diesel units to provide a real-world comparison of performance. The hydrogen tanks and fuel cells are mounted on the car roofs, with the tanks carrying 94 kg of hydrogen per car, enough for around one day or 700 km of operation. As for the environmental footprint this will depend on how the hydrogen is produced; under Germany's current electricity generating mix and electrolysis produces an unfavourable comparison to diesel, but the generating mix predicted for 2020 would make the hydrogen greener.

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