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Hydrogen-powered train with zero emissions completes test run in Germany

A train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell has completed its first test run in Germany, showing the viability of the technology to operate without waste. Following more planned tests, the train is expected to begin commercial operation later this year, on the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line in Lower Saxony, Germany.

There is much speculation about what the future of mass transit may be. Some suggest automated cars, others more outlandish technology like the Hyperloop. However, more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional transport systems, like zero-emission trains, could be another avenue entirely and it’s one that sustainable rail developer Alstom is banking on with its Coradia iLint design.

#Alstom revealed to the world the first zero-emission and hydrogen powered passenger train. Learn how it works!

— Alstom (@Alstom) September 26, 2016

The iLint train uses an onboard fuel cell design which uses a combination of stored hydrogen and oxygen drawn from the local atmosphere to generate electricity. That electricity can propel the train up to 87 miles per hour, with excess power being funneled into large-scale lithium-ion batteries for later usee. The train also makes use of energy recovery systems to improve the efficiency of the electrical systems.

This makes the train completely sustainable, producing only water and steam as emissions and requiring no electrification of the track. The train even produces almost no noise, since there is no combustion to contend with.

All of this makes the Coradia iLint design an incredibly versatile transit option, capable of operating within densely populated areas without causing pollution – noise and otherwise.

This latest test saw the train reach just shy of 50 miles per hour, so it will require further testing to make sure that it’s safe at higher speeds, but this is a step in the right direction for the design.

“This test run is a significant milestone in environmental protection and technical innovation,” said Didier Pfleger, vice president of Alstom in Germany and Austria (via the Telegraph).

“With the Coradia iLint and its fuel cell technology, Alstom is the first railway manufacturer to offer a zero-emission alternative for mass transit trains.”

Do you think hydrogen fuel-cell trains could be the future of zero emission mass transit?

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