World’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered trains launched in Germany

Trains are currently being operated on multiple sources of electricity, and the list includes fossils, electricity, magnetic levitation and more. However, the most controversial fuel source – hydrogen, has managed to stay off the list. Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case now, as German officials have confirmed the induction of the world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train fleet. It will replace 15 diesel trains that previously operated on tracks lacking electricity supply in Lower Saxony, Germany. The fleet comprises 14 trains, which use fuel cells to generate electricity, making it the cleanest-green train fleet ever built.

State governor Stephen Weil said the 93 million euro (US$92 million) project was an ‘excellent example’ for Lower Saxony’s efforts to green its economy.

The trains, manufactured by the French company Alstom, are operated by the regional rail company LNVG on routes between the northern cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoorde and Buxtehude.

Alstom states that the Coradia iLint trains have a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (621 mi) and a maximum speed of 140 km/h (87 mph).

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The trains will save 1.6 million liters (over 422,000 gallons) of diesel fuel a year by using hydrogen produced from renewable energy.

Hydrogen is currently produced as a byproduct in chemical processes, but German specialty gas company Linde plans to make it locally using only renewable energy within three years.

Hydrogen has been seen as a powerful replacement for fossil fuels in the transportation industry. Smaller sized fuel cells are also being developed for use in cars. However, the technology is still in its early stages for a mass market product. The challenge of transporting hydrogen and its retail is a challenge that still needs to be overcome.

Carmakers are conducting several research programs in collaboration with technical institutions and other organizations around the world on the use of hydrogen as a fuel for cars.

With inputs from PTI