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Alstom and MOL to explore use of hydrogen technologies for rail transport in Hungary

Alstom and MOL, Hungary’s leading oil and gas company, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to structure cooperation in examining the use of hydrogen technology in rail transportation. MOL Group already produces and utilizes almost 150,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year.

As part of its National Hydrogen Strategy, Hungary has been investigating the feasibility of introducing hydrogen technology to rail transportation.

Alstom is a pioneer of hydrogen technology, having introduced the Coradia iLint to the German market in September 2018 (earlier post). The Coradia iLint trains have run more than 200,000 km with zero CO2 emission in passenger service in Germany and Austria and has been successfully tested in the Netherlands. Alstom’s hydrogen technology has also been purchased by SNCF (France) and FNM (Italy).

Coradia iLint hydrogen trains are electric trains with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell for onboard electricity generation. The battery is used to store braking energy, to boost acceleration and for auxiliary supply. An intelligent energy management system constantly supervises the energy usage of the train, taking into consideration the track ahead, including slopes, and thus allowing for a range of up to 1000 km.

The only emission from a hydrogen train is water; it produces no harmful particulate or gaseous emissions. Operating these trains requires hydrogen refueling stations. To establish this infrastructure, Alstom already cooperates with oil and gas companies such as Linde in Germany, and Orlen in Poland.

In November, Alstom signed a collaboration agreement with Liebherr – Aerospace & Transportation SAS, a France-based company specializing in the manufacture of compressors for fuel cells. This agreement is aimed at optimizing hydrogen systems, including improving the reliability and durability of fuel cells, increasing their power density and reducing the cost of such solutions.

Our ambition is to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen in the rail industry and to develop innovative solutions in the context of the greening of heavy mobility, including regional trains, shunting locomotives and freight locomotives.

—Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, President of Alstom France

Following the acquisition last April of Helion Hydrogen Power (an innovation start-up specializing in high-powered fuel cells, based in Aix-en-Provence), Alstom has now chosen to collaborate with the Liebherr group, which has a strong presence in the South-West of France.

Leveraging its extensive experience in fuel cell technology for automotive and aerospace applications, Liebherr, as a supplier of turbochargers to fuel cell system integrators, will play a major role in the process of reducing emissions from rail transport.

This collaboration between Alstom and Liebherr is an additional asset in the development of Alstom’s hydrogen business, which relies, among others, on Alstom’s site in Tarbes (in eth South-West of France), a global Centre of Excellence for “green” traction systems, and on Alstom Hydrogène site in Aix-en-Provence, which covers the entire high-power fuel cell value chain and focuses mainly on the energy and transport markets, in France and internationally.

In addition, Alstom signed an agreement with Snam (Italy’s leading natural gas transport company) in 2020 to develop hydrogen trains and associated infrastructure. Alstom will be responsible for the production and maintenance of the hydrogen trains (new or retrofitted), while Snam will develop the infrastructure for the production, transport and refuelling of these trains.

Alstom also announced in October that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Plastic Omnium, a major player in hydrogen mobility, for the development of high-end hydrogen storage systems for the rail sector.



I suppose it will reduce local pollution, and with railways, you know where and when you will need the fuel, so setting up the depots won't be a huge effort.
Electrification would be better, if the demand could support it, and batteries could do shorter runs.
A combination of partial catenary electrification (say 25-40% of the track) and batteries could be interesting, where you can charge as you travel, and thus do not need huge batteries.


Why is it that the natural gas companies that are pushing hydrogen? I know -- that is a dumb question. It is so that they can keep doing business as usual. I might be more impressed if they were promising "green" hydrogen and using nuclear power and they had an excess of nuclear power or renewables for the hydrogen but they are not even promising "blue" hydrogen which is mostly a fossil fuel company scam anyway.

Am I supposed to be impressed with more than 200,000 km of operation when I have driven my personal electric car more than 75,000 km.

And mahonj, you are correct. Almost all of this could be done with battery electric for the shorter commuter runs especially if there were short sections of overhead wire near the terminals. If battery electric is being proposed for North American freight where the trains often exceed 12,000 tonnes and may be more than 2 km in length, they certainly will work in freight rail in Hungary.

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