Fuel cell trains

Hydrail technology – electric railway propulsion using onboard hydrogen fuel cells – is poised to replace both diesel electric locomotives and trains powered by track electrification. It will happen much faster than it took diesels to supplant steam locomotives.

Wow. The trains are powered by hydrogen, and thus generate their own electricity. Railroads in Japan and India are already testing the technology, and here’s the kicker. The fuel cells can run on waste hydrogen used by various chemical manufacturing processes. A proposed Danish train plans to run entirely on such waste hydrogen. But there’s more!

Later Danish trains may run on wind power. Denmark’s Hydrogen Innovation and Research Center calculates that a single large wind turbine can generate enough hydrogen through electrolysis to power two trains. Given that Denmark already gets more than 38 percent of its energy from the wind, the economic prospects for hydrail are excellent.

Clean trains that don’t use carbon-based fuel would be a paradigm shift and are an inspiring example of how new technology can help remediate both global warming and peak oil.