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Coradia iLint hydrogen train receives approval for commercial operation in German railway networks

Alstom’s Coradia iLint (earlier post), the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell passenger train, has been granted approval by the German Railway Office (EBA) for passenger service in Germany.

Coradia iLint is based on the service-proven diesel train Coradia Lint 54. Replacing the diesel traction with fuel cell technology enables sustainable train operation while its performance matches that of regular regional trains. The trains are powered by an electrical traction drive; electrical energy is generated on-board in a fuel cell and intermediately stored in Li-ion batteries.

The iLint can run at 140 km/h (87 mph), with a 600 to 800 km/tankful autonomy, and accommodate up to 300 passengers.

With the approval of the German Railway Office (EBA), we are sending the first passenger train with fuel cell technology onto the tracks. This is a strong sign of the mobility of the future. Hydrogen is a true low-emission and efficient alternative to diesel. Especially on secondary lines, where overhead lines are uneconomic or not yet available, these trains are a clean and environmentally friendly option. That is why we support and promote the technology, in order to bring it to the surface.

—Enak Ferlemann, the German Federal Government’s authorised delegate for rail transportation

In November 2017, Alstom and the local transport authority of Lower Saxony (LNVG) signed a contract for the delivery of 14 hydrogen fuel cell trains, along with 30 years of maintenance and energy supply. The 14 trains will be produced by Alstom for LNVG's vehicle pool and will transport passengers between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude from December 2021.

Following this approval granted by EBA, the two Coradia iLint prototypes will enter pilot operation in the Elbe-Weser network. Passenger service is scheduled for late summer.

Coradia iLint is the world’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which produces electrical power for traction. Specifically designed for operation on non-electrified lines, it enables clean, sustainable train operation while ensuring high levels of performance.

The Coradia iLint was designed by Alstom teams in Salzgitter (Germany), center of excellence for regional trains, and in Tarbes (France), centre of excellence for traction systems. This project benefits from the support of the German ministry of economy and mobility. AlstomÆs development of the Coradia iLint was funded with €8 million (US$9.3 million) from the German government as part of the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP).

Comments

Davemart

Great news.

It has very large implications in particular for the US rail network, and hopefully will make inroads into that massive source of pollution.

The roll out of hydrogen infrastructure to enable them should also benefit the supply to cars.

HarveyD

Yes Davemart, this is great news with huge potential, specially in USA and Canada, (and many other places) where very few electrified rails exist.

A hand to Alstom (Germany and France) for development and operation of the first H2 trains.

The large H2 stations required will most probably be used to supply FC Trucks/Buses and other FCEVs with similar range.

SJC

Makes more sense than overhead wires and the fueling can be used for trucks and buses.

sd

If you run straight electric or battery electric, you will be about 80 to 90% efficient. If you run a fuel cell about the best estimate I have seen for efficiency is 40% but 25% is probably a better number for common current practice. If the usage is not sufficient to make overhead catenary economically practical, a better solution would be to have a battery electric system where the train is charged either at the stations or using short sections of overhead catenary. Last fall, I rode a urban transit rail system in northern Italy that worked on such a system

If you are running at 25 to 40% efficient and using coal for electric power, even diesel power is probably cleaner than using coal fired electric power to generate hydrogen. About 44% of German electric production is coal based and about another 6% is burning biomass which could be better or worse than coal.

SJC

Not if you make the hydrogen using renewable methane.

Roger Pham

@sd---Nikola Motor cited 70% efficiency for their FC. The electrolyzer can use DC current straight from the PV panels from the solar farms without conversion loss nor grid's transmission loss. The best electrolyzer can be as high as 80% efficient, plus 95% efficient compression. So, 70% x 80% x 95% = 53%
With catenary electrification system, you have to figure in 7% loss in DC to AC conversion from solar panels to grid, then 7% loss via grid power transmission, plus 7% loss in AC to DC conversion by the train's rectifier to be used in the. so 93% x 93% x 93% = 80% efficiency.
With battery charging, you have 93% efficient, plus 85%-efficient charging efficiency, plus 93% battery efficiency = 73% efficiency.

Nobody would be so dumb as to use coal-fired or natural gas power plants' electricity in electrolyzer to make hydrogen. Natural Gas, waste biomass, and Coal can be easily gasified directly into H2 at 75% efficiency, without losses in electricity generation AND in electrolyzer. The well-to-wheel efficiency from FF to BEV vs FF to FCV is quite comparable.

sd

SJC

If you have bio-methane, a modified diesel engine such as the Cummins Westport "Near Zero NOx" engine would be better than messing with hydrogen. Or, if you insist on making hydrogen, use the hydrogen for direct reduction iron where you would replace coke from coal.

SJC

Take a therm of NG, make electricity at 40% then transmit it, convert it, store it and retrieve it. Now you are at 30%. Reform that therm at 80% and put it in a fuel cell at 50% for 40%.

SJC

Take a therm of NG, make electricity at 40% then transmit it, convert it, store it and retrieve it. Now you are at 30%. Reform that therm at 80% and put it in a fuel cell at 50% for 40%.

sd

SJC

If you are going to quote best case efficiencies for your side of the argument than use it for the other side. GE offers combined cycle efficiencies of 62.22 % to make electricity from natural gas. Real world it is probably 58-60%.

Roger

Likewise, plus I think that I would take Nikola Motors numbers with a few grains of salt.

"Nobody would be so dumb as to use coal-fired or natural gas power plants' electricity in electrolyzer (sic) to make hydrogen" Really! It does not matter anyway as electricity is fungible.

Anyway, there is no energy cheap easy source of hydrogen. If you were going to make hydrogen, probably the best technique would to use nuclear power and go with high temperature electrolysis.

Roger Pham

You are still believing that Hydrogen from RE is uncompetitive to FF. That's the crux of the issue. Here it is again, from :
awea.org/falling-wind-energy-costs

"Wind's unsubsidized costs are competitive with conventional generation in certain regions of the country, ranging from $30/MWh to $60/MWh in 2017, with pricing lowest in the Interior region of the country."
So, assuming an average unsubsidized wind electricity cost of 4.5 cent per kWh, we can produce bulk Hydrogen at $2.75 per kg. Adding distribution cost and profit, and $5.60 per kg at the pump is quite reasonable, while bulk purchasers like trucking companies can get H2 at $4 per kg, which is what Nikola Motor projects the price of H2 for truckers.

The US Midwest Wind Belt can produce very low-cost Wind electricity, but getting this electricity to major cities requires too much investment in power transmission lines. However, producing H2 for trains and truckers to fill-up as they drive thru the Mid West AND for local farming equipment and for farming consumption will be more cost-effective. This should help reduce a lot of NG and diesel consumption, and the Energy Industry (Oil and Gas Industry) can do it!

With further gain in profitability from these operations, the NG pipelines will be upgraded to handle 100% H2 to bring MidWest Wind-sourced H2 to major population centers to gradually replacing petroleum consumption, and we will see FCV's being sold everywhere.

Remember that BEV's electricity is costing half as much as petroleum, yet BEV's are having hard time growing, so H2 from RE will only need to profitably match the price of petroleum cost per mile to start gaining market share. And all this will be done by the Oil and Gas industry to replace depleted oil and gas reserves.

Remember that Europe and Asia are gravitating toward RE, with laws to phase out FF to comply with the Paris Accord, and so the FF industry cannot afford to lose those huge energy markets.

SJC

The point is battery EV is not as efficient as some would lead you to believe. The grid is 40% efficient on average, transmission, conversion and storage loses are quantifiable. Efficiency to reform renewable methane is known, the efficiency of FCs is known. When you compare the two it comes out a draw, not the wildly overstated efficiency of BEV.

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