November 30th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
Generally speaking, at best, I don’t get excited about hydrogen news. In the case of potential hydrogen-powered airplanes or large ships, I might be cautiously optimistic — or just attentive — since experts like Mark Z. Jacobson consider such transport methods to perhaps be a good fit for hydrogen fuel cell powertrains. However, generally, my understanding of the matter is hydrogen-powered vehicles are typically too inefficient (in terms of energy and cost) to compete with battery-electric vehicles.
The news below caught my attention, though. It’s about hydrogen-powered trains. Again, this seems like a transportation mode that would be more efficiently powered with other electric options. But perhaps I’m wrong. Trains are certainly large vehicles with unique characteristics — in terms of needing a lot of power to get rolling but then not needing a great amount of energy as they roll on metal wheels and rails with little to no interruption. So, do hydrogen-powered trains have an opportunity to break into a free market or not? I’m inclined to think not, but we’ll see.
In the meantime, below is a fresh press release from European train giant Alstom about its newest order.
The board of FNM, Lombardy’s leading public transport group, approves major investment in green railway transportation.
Alstom will supply six hydrogen fuel cell trains, with the option for eight more, to FNM (Ferrovie Nord Milano), the main transport and mobility group in the Italian region of Lombardy, for a total amount of approximately €160 million. The first train delivery is expected within 36 months of the date of the order.
The new hydrogen trains will be based on Alstom’s Coradia Stream regional train platform, which is dedicated to the European market and already being produced for Italy by Alstom’s main Italian sites. The hydrogen powered Coradia Stream for FNM, will be equipped with the same fuel cell propulsion technology that was introduced to the world by the Coradia iLint. The hydrogen Coradia Stream will maintain the high standards of comfort already appreciated by passengers of its electric version. The hydrogen version will match the operational performance of diesel trains, including their range.
“We are immensely proud to be introducing hydrogen train technology to Italy, and we recognise the trust placed in us by our Italian customer. This development confirms Alstom’s role in defining the future of mobility. These trains, together with the Coradia iLint that have already proven themselves in commercial service in Germany, represent another major step in the transition towards global sustainable transport systems. I take this opportunity to congratulate FNM for demonstrating that they are a leader in this area,” says Gian Luca Erbacci, Senior Vice President of Alstom Europe.
The Coradia iLint is the world’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which produces electrical power for traction. This zero-emission train emits low levels of noise, with exhaust being only steam and condensed water. The iLint is special for its combination of different innovative elements: clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries, and smart management of traction power and available energy. Specifically designed for operation on non-electrified lines, it enables clean, sustainable train operation while ensuring high levels of performance.
The Coradia Stream trains for FNM are manufactured by Alstom in Italy. Project development, most of the manufacturing and certification are performed at Alstom’s site in Savigliano. The on-board signaling systems are delivered by the Bologna site.
Image courtesy of Alstom.
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