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The world's first hydrogen-powered train goes into service

Coradia iLint's electric motor (ubahnverleih)Coradia iLint's electric motor (ubahnverleih)Hydrail technology—trains that use hydrogen fuel to power their motors—has become a reality: the first hydrogen-powered trains have just entered service in Germany. Hydrogen trains are equipped with fuel cells which produce electricity through combining hydrogen with oxygen. This process leaves steam and water as its only by-products; carbon emissions are zero. With the urgent need to ban the burning of fossil fuels globally, high-emission diesel trains are being phased out. Hydrail is far cheaper than electrifying an entire rail network, it is quiet and leaves no carbon footprint. It is likely to become the best option for rail transport in the 21st century.

Hydrogen fuel pump (US Dept. of Energy)Hydrogen fuel pump (US Dept. of Energy)

Hydrogen as a fuel

Hydrogen is an extremely common element, found in water. It can be separated from water by electrolysis, but this process itself involves the use of electricity. Once isolated, hydrogen can serve as a form of fuel, which can generate electricity. This is then fed into a electric motor to propel a vehicle. It is a way of "storing" energy onboard a vehicle where it is too expensive, or impracticable, to connect it directly to an electricity supply.

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