Germany is rolling out its fleet of the world’s first Hydrogen-Powered trains off the assembly line. Not only does this sound cool, it is cool! Using hydrogen as a fuel is a much greener and efficient alternative to using fossil fuels for power. But as with any breakthrough technology, it posed its own set of challenges. High cost being one of them. But that’s soon going to change — on Monday, German passengers boarded the world’s first hydrogen-powered trains. This could be revolutionary.
The new trains transport passengers along 100 kilometers (62 miles) of track and can travel up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) on a single tank of hydrogen, reaching top speeds of 140 kmh (87 mph). Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity by combining hydrogen with oxygen, and the only byproduct is water. That makes the cells a promising energy source that produces zero emissions and very little noise. When you do compare them to traditional trains they have a much higher initial cost but are cheaper to run.
Although hydrogen fuel cells are way more expensive compared to normal batteries, the advantages are more than worth the high cost. One of the biggest advantages is refueling, any normal battery would need to recharged once it is depleted. But not hydrogen fuel cells, they can be refueled (with hydrogen gas of course) just like a diesel engine. This avoids long and tiresome charging times. This is the next step in using hydrogen as a fuel for transportation after successfully powering buses and cars all over the world. And ongoing research is trying to cut costs even more. Trains emit way more carbon dioxide than cars and buses. Replacing train engines with a cleaner one can do wonders for the environment.
If all goes well with these first two trains, Germany hopes to add a dozen other trains to the fleet.