Alstom Transport uses technology similar to that of hydrogen fuel cell automobiles. Railway Gazette reports that German rail authorities hope to develop Zero Emission Trains by purchasing fuel cell trainsets.
One reason for applying fuel cell technology to trains is Germany's strong interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. The federal government "will provide financial assistance as part of its grant funding for sustainable transport projects," according to Railway Gazette.
"The only emissions from fuel cells are heat and water," one of the major benefits of hydrogen powered vehicles, according to "How Stuff Works."
"Alstom Transport hopes to have 40 fuel cell-powered regional trains in commercial service on regional lines in Germany by 2020," they write. Four railway authorities have signed letters of intent with Alstom
The powertrain will use hydrogen fuel cells, batteries and energy storage systems to replace a roof-mounted diesel powerpack, giving equivalent performance to an electric multiple-unit [EMU].
"Alstom claims the trains would be ‘completely emission free’, noting that even electric trains can have a carbon footprint based on the fuel used for power generation," according to Railway Gazette. However, hydrogen also has a carbon footprint based from how it is produced. See "Box 1: Hydrogen Production Pathways" in "Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles" the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
[Hat tip to Eugene Wilson of Sierra Club Chapter Transportation Chairs Forum.]
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