Energy, News, Technology, Travel

The Hydrogen-Powered Train

Kenton Reynolds

Kenton Reynolds, Writer

China has, reportedly, produced their first train powered solely by hydrogen.

Hydrogen has been a prospective fuel source – especially in transport – for many years now. It’s a completely clean and carbon neutral fuel that can be renewable too. The problems posed by hydrogen fuel cells are mainly logistical ones. To store enough for a long distance journey, the gas must be extremely high pressure which makes it difficult to store with few refuel stops along the way. Moreover, though renewable hydrogen production is possible it is not common just yet due to the expense of the process. However, cracking this tech will achieve a fuel economy that is about double that of gasoline when used in cars with no emissions other than water vapour.

The CRRC Changchun Railway Co and Chengdu Rail Transit – who have jointly developed the train – appear to have solved a lot of these issues. The train’s built-in hydrogen power system will allow for a maximum 600 km of travel at a time. Using similar technology to the fuxing bullet trains that have caused worldwide ripples with their futuristic look and hyperspeed, top speeds are expected to be up to 160 km per hour. Rolling off the assembly line on 18th January this year, this will be the first hydrogen-powered train developed purely for urban transport.

Travelling 500 km both ways in a day at 160 kmh, 10,000 kg of carbon dioxide could be saved every year by one train alone. China has been derided for both its extreme contributions to climate change through greenhouse gas pollution as well as being one of the countries most affected by the crisis. It has a relatively carbon-intensive economy that is heavily weighted in manufacturing which means the government are seeking new sources of countermeasure. This seems to be a perfect solution if it works well and one that the state are set on with ambitious plans to have 50,000 hydrogen fuel cells in transport and produce 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen each year by 2025.

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