The world’s first urban train powered by hydrogen has been produced in China, according to local media in the Asian country. The project has been a joint venture between the CRRC Changchun Railway Company and Chengdu Rail Transit. Hydrogen-powered trains already exist, but this is the first to be developed specifically for a city environment.
The zero-emission train adopted the core technology of the Fuxing bullet train and is capable of 160 km/h; making it the fastest hydrogen train to date. The train has a built-in hydrogen power system, which provides a long-lasting power source, with a 600 km battery life. The train officially rolled off the assembly line in Chengdu, Sichuan province, southwest China.
For this new train, a hydrogen fuel cell and supercapacitor were placed in place of the original catenary power supply. The electrochemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen produces energy in the hydrogen fuel cell; water is the only by-product of the reaction. In addition, the reaction process is stable and the resulting noise is minimal.
Germany is ahead in this sector, with some 14 hydrogen-powered Alstom trains already in service since last year. The CRRC engine can outpace German trains in speed by about 20 km/h, but the latter currently offer a much longer range of about 1,000 km.
While Japan and Korea have been the countries pushing green hydrogen as a transportation solution, the latest figures show that China is leading the way in the actual deployment of hydrogen refueling stations. According to Information Trends, there are just over 1,000 hydrogen stations in the world, and about a third of them are in China.
China has an ambitious plan to foster the growth of the hydrogen sector. According to the plan presented by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration (NEA), the country will have around 50,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2025. Also, China’s annual hydrogen production from renewable sources is expected to reach 200,000 tons.
China’s drive to promote its green and low-carbon transformation of energy has reaped impressive results according to figures from the National Development and Reform Commission. https://t.co/ED8IbCr6OQ— Mission of China to the EU (@ChinaEUMission) January 20, 2023
NEA reports that China had around 270 hydrogen refueling stations at the end of June 2022, a small network compared to the widespread presence of electric vehicle charging facilities in the Asian country. According to the Chinese news outlet Global Times, the truck maker FAW Jiefang shipped 300 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles from Northeast China’s Jilin Province and delivered them to customers in Beijing, Shanghai, Shanxi, among other locations places.
Japan has also been making headway in developing the technology. In early 2022, East Japan Railway Company (JR East) started testing Japan’s first hydrogen-fuelled train next month, in a step towards the country’s goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
Japan’s largest railway company designed the model in partnership with Toyota Motor Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. and the result bears the name of ‘Hybari’. The tests will be conducted on the Nanbu Line, which connects the Tachikawa Station in Tokyo to the Kawasaki Station in Kawasaki, as well as on some other unspecified lines.
‘Hybari’ has only 2 cars and its development cost 4 billion yen, or about $35 million, but, on a single filling of hydrogen, it will be able to reach a speed 100 km/h and cover a distance of up to 140 kilometres.
JR East estimates that commercial services will be available by 2030 and intends to replace its entire diesel fleet with the hydrogen model, but it is also looking into export markets.
Following Europe’s model, Japan plans to become carbon neutral by 2050 and the hydrogen train is a big step in that direction. To serve this purpose, the country has made hydrogen a key clean-energy source, intending to increase hydrogen usage to 20 million tons by 2050, while more fuel-cell buses and commercial vehicles are on the road.