Urban Transport

Hydrogen fuel cell-powered train has diesel in its sights

Hydrogen fuel cell-powered tra...
The Coradia iLint is based on Alstom's diesel-powered Coradia Lint 54
The Coradia iLint is based on Alstom's diesel-powered Coradia Lint 54
View 9 Images
The Coradia iLint is based on Alstom's diesel-powered Coradia Lint 54
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The Coradia iLint is based on Alstom's diesel-powered Coradia Lint 54
The train produces no CO2, only steam and water as byproducts
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The train produces no CO2, only steam and water as byproducts
There is a capacity of up to 300 passengers, including 150 seated
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There is a capacity of up to 300 passengers, including 150 seated
The train is said to run very quietly, helping to provide a comfortable experience for passengers
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The train is said to run very quietly, helping to provide a comfortable experience for passengers
The top speed of the train is 140 km/h (87 mph)
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The top speed of the train is 140 km/h (87 mph)
Hydrogen is stored in tanks mounted on the roof
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Hydrogen is stored in tanks mounted on the roof
The hydrogen reacts with oxygen when it is supplied to the fuel-cell to produce electricity
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The hydrogen reacts with oxygen when it is supplied to the fuel-cell to produce electricity
The electricity produced by the fuel-cell powers the train and is used to charge lithium-ion batteries
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The electricity produced by the fuel-cell powers the train and is used to charge lithium-ion batteries
The train has a "smart power and energy management system" that distributes power to wherever it is required, contributing to the overall efficiency
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The train has a "smart power and energy management system" that distributes power to wherever it is required, contributing to the overall efficiency
View gallery - 9 images

Non-electrified regional rail networks are often served by diesel-powered trains. Alstom, however, has developed an environmentally friendly alternative. The electric Coradia iLint not only produces zero emissions, but features a smart energy management system and goes about its business nice and quietly.

The Coradia iLint is based on Alstom's diesel-powered Coradia Lint 54 and has a capacity of up to 300 passengers, including seats for 150. The top speed is listed as 140 km/h (87 mph) and is said to have comparable acceleration and braking performances to the Lint 54.

The fuel cell onboard the train mixes hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity, which is stored in a lithium-ion battery that also draws on regenerative braking. A "smart power and energy management system" then selectively distributes power to parts of the trains as required, affording it a range of 600 to 800 km (370-500 mi) per tank of fuel.

Hydrogen is stored in tanks mounted on the roof
Hydrogen is stored in tanks mounted on the roof

The train produces no CO2, only steam and water as byproducts. It is also claimed to run very quietly. Alstom says it is one of the only railway manufacturers to develop a fuel-cell-powered passenger train and that the Coradia iLint is the first such train to boast low-floors, with the hydrogen stored in tanks on its roof.

Conscious of the effort it would require to roll out its fuel cell trains, Alstom is offering the Coradia iLint in a package that includes maintenance and refuelling infrastructure. There's no word on price, but the train is expected to go into operation from 2018.

The Coradia iLint is being presented at the InnoTrans trade fair, which runs from September 20-23.

Source: Alstom

View gallery - 9 images
9 comments
VincentWolf
This is cool. With BEV and Fuel Cell trains a likely reality in the decades ahead the age of the diesel is slowing coming to a screeching halt. Thank goodness.
voluntaryist
And the source of the hydrogen is? Isn't that important?
Shohreh
Where does that hydrogen come from?
How efficient is that process, compared to electrifying the railroads and powering the trains with nuclear energy instead?
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is both cool and green.
I think diesel electric could become green if they used bio fuel for the diesel engine. I have read that diesel engines can use not just diesel fuel.
TomBateman
For the source of clean hydrogen; methylation is one of the current processes but check out Hazer process being developed by Geoff Pocock's team at Sydney University or HZR.ASX
ljaques
This is cool and the trains look comfy, but (non-fossil) fuel cells are now just 25% efficient, as shown in the Hydrogen Economy Wiki. Electric vehicles can be 86% efficient. Currently, 96% of hydrogen comes from fossil fuel sources. I, too, wish for modular nuclear power and still urge my CONgresscritters to recycle "spent" fuel to severely limit the waste stream. IMHO, everything we can do -inexpensively- to lower fossil fuel use is a good thing. Efficiency is essential, tho.
habakak
A good alternative. The more options, the better. Electric lines can't always be run due to geography, etc. This would be good for those places. The process used to create the hydrogen and the energy used to run that process is very important too. However, the world is moving to renewables and in a decade a lot more hydrogen could be produced from clean sources. And maybe batteries (which will also be charged from renewables) will become energy dense enough to eventually be utilized on short distance commuter trains like this. At the end of the day using electricity to charge batteries is more efficient than any process to separate hydrogen.
MattII
Like others, I have issues with hydrogen, not just because of where it comes from (an issue already mentioned), but also because hydrogen is damnably difficult to store, nothing can contain it in the long-term.
Calson
87 MPH makes it faster than any US train in operation but less than half the speed of electric powered trains in operation in Japan, China, and Europe.