• Hydrogen power

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by george matthews
 
The BBC tv news has featured a German train powered by hydrogen. It is designed for branch lines that are too low frequency to be fitted with electric power. It seems to be a normal branch line DMU but supplied not with a diesel engine but a hydrogen system.

One advantage it has is no diesel exhaust to pollute the local atmosphere. When charged with hydrogen it has enough power to travel up to 600 miles. It is interesting that this is not an experiment but is being installed on several low frequency branch lines.

The British transport minister - normally I find him rather dim and incompetent - has expressed an interest. I can think of several lines where it would be of use in Britain.

Hydrogen can be supplied anywhere there is electric power. Refilling can be much faster than recharging batteries.
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  by DutchRailnut
 
since hydrogen as fuel is created with lots of electricity, it would only be saving and clean if that energy is created from solar/wind or hydro.
if it is created by power from normal electric grid, it really would not accomplish anything.
  by george matthews
 
DutchRailnut wrote:since hydrogen as fuel is created with lots of electricity, it would only be saving and clean if that energy is created from solar/wind or hydro.
if it is created by power from normal electric grid, it really would not accomplish anything.
True-ish. But hydrogen is an important product of non-carbon energy systems. And it does make possible non-carbon emitting locomotive activity. As it can be recharged quicker than batteries, it is a useful and necessary component of a non-carbon energy system - which we must have. But most important, the German activity shows that it is not a speculative fantasy but an actual engineering product. And, unlike in the US, non-carbon electricity is actually entering the grids in several countries in Europe.
  by Wayside
 
As with many modern problems, the ultimate solution is multi-faceted. The basic requirement is the political will to overcome the outsized influence of the petroleum lobby.
  by george matthews
 
Wayside wrote:As with many modern problems, the ultimate solution is multi-faceted. The basic requirement is the political will to overcome the outsized influence of the petroleum lobby.
It is encouraging to show that alternatives to oil derived systems are feasible and have been implemented. Potentially this system could have wide applications. I am reminded of how horrible the air has been in Paddington station - before the recent electrification - due to the exhausts from the steam of earlier times, and the diesel of recent times. The local pollution was nasty and a danger to health but the overall addition of CO2 to the atmosphere has had even more serious effects. I hope that hydrogen systems may have a role in controlling the addition of CO2 to the atmosphere, as well as controlling the air quality in general. Practically, hydrogen may prove to be a more permanent and cheaper energy store than batteries. And of course the hydrogen itself must be derived from non-oil sources.
  by kato
 
george matthews wrote:It is interesting that this is not an experiment but is being installed on several low frequency branch lines.
They're overstating that a bit. There are two prototypes of the Coradia iLint running in a test rollout for the next 18 months on a regular route since September; after that test run, and with a pause inbetween, beginning end of 2021 some 14 units of the series production will run on the same route. The contract for those 14 units is the only one Alstom has been able to get under wrap yet; three years ago, when development started, they signed memorandums with other German states to run 60 units by 2021.

Siemens and other competitors have designed all-electric (battery) traincars for the same purpose which are currently in similar test runs in South Germany and in Austria.
DutchRailnut wrote:since hydrogen as fuel is created with lots of electricity, it would only be saving and clean if that energy is created from solar/wind or hydro.
if it is created by power from normal electric grid, it really would not accomplish anything.
For the initial test runs back in April with the prototypes they used hydrogen produced in a chemical factory that otherwise would have been burned off as a waste gas there.
  by David Benton
 
Another fuel source may be excess Nuclear power. At the moment they use pumped storage to store it, making Hydrogen may become more cost effective.
  by george matthews
 
David Benton wrote:Another fuel source may be excess Nuclear power. At the moment they use pumped storage to store it, making Hydrogen may become more cost effective.
I don't want to encourage nuclear energy, as long as its exhaust products cannot be eliminated. But there are plenty of alternatives. The recent information about biogas shows very large potential and it's spreading well in Africa and other places. There is at least one train using biogas as its fuel - I think in Norway or Sweden. Biogas is a biological energy product.