Canada has introduced North America’s first hydrogen-powered train this summer, marking a significant milestone in sustainable transportation. The French passenger train is currently undergoing a short-term demonstration until the end of September, aiming to stimulate adoption of this technology in both Canada and the United States. Robert Stasko, executive director of Ontario’s Hydrogen Business Council, emphasized the importance of raising public awareness and fostering comfort with this innovative solution, as reported by CBC News.
Operating from Montmorency Falls in Quebec City to Base-Saint-Paul, the Canadian hydrogen train offers a scenic two-and-a-half-hour journey on Wednesdays through Sundays until September 30th. With a maximum speed of 140 km/h (87 mph), it accommodates up to 120 passengers across its two passenger cars. Alstom, the French manufacturer of this train, claims that its acceleration and braking capabilities are comparable to conventional diesel-engine trains, but without the harmful emissions. Unlike Europe, where electric rail and overhead wires are common, hydrogen trains are well-suited for vast regions like the Canadian countryside with long distances and lower commuter density. This makes them an attractive solution for transportation challenges in parts of the United States as well.
The Coradia iLint, the same model of train, has already been operational in eight European countries. In Lower Saxony, Germany, as many as 14 of these trains have been running since last year. Alstom initiated testing of these trains in 2018 and has secured additional contracts in Germany, Italy, and France. Orders for 41 trainsets have been placed by European clients, indicating growing interest in this eco-friendly mode of transport.
The Coradia iLint relies on approximately 50 kilograms of hydrogen per day, according to Serge Harnois, CEO of Harnois Énergies, the train’s hydrogen fuel supplier. In comparison, a standard engine would consume around 500 liters of diesel fuel for the same journey. The only byproduct emitted by the train is water vapor, generated through the combination of hydrogen and oxygen in a fuel cell to produce power.
While the three-month demonstration comes with certain caveats, such as the need for a diesel-powered truck to transport hydrogen for refueling (with the eventual goal of on-site hydrogen production), it represents a crucial step toward wider adoption of hydrogen trains in North America. The environmental impact of transporting the train from Europe for a brief demonstration is a valid concern. However, following its residence in Canada, the train will continue its tour in other North American cities. If successful, this initiative has the potential to significantly offset the carbon footprint from the diesel truck refueling and transatlantic journey, ultimately promoting the widespread adoption of hydrogen trains across various regions in North America.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about hydrogen-powered train
What is the significance of North America’s first hydrogen-powered train in Canada?
The significance of North America’s first hydrogen-powered train in Canada lies in its aim to raise awareness and promote the adoption of sustainable transportation. It serves as a demonstration of the potential of hydrogen trains in Canada and the United States.
How does the hydrogen train compare to traditional diesel-engine trains?
The hydrogen train, specifically the Coradia iLint model, offers comparable acceleration and braking performance to standard diesel-engine trains. However, it operates without harmful emissions, making it an eco-friendly alternative for transportation.
What is the range and capacity of the Canadian hydrogen train?
The Canadian hydrogen train runs from Montmorency Falls in Quebec City to Base-Saint-Paul, providing a two-and-a-half-hour trip. It can carry up to 120 passengers in its two passenger cars.
How does the hydrogen train generate power?
The hydrogen train generates power through a fuel cell that combines hydrogen with oxygen. This process produces electricity, propelling the train forward while emitting only water vapor as a byproduct.
Are hydrogen trains being used in other parts of the world?
Yes, hydrogen trains have been operational in eight European countries. The same Coradia iLint model has been running in Germany, and Alstom, the manufacturer, has secured additional contracts in Germany, Italy, and France.
What are the potential environmental benefits of hydrogen trains?
Hydrogen trains offer significant environmental benefits as they produce zero emissions during operation. Compared to traditional diesel trains, they help reduce air pollution and contribute to combating climate change.
Are there any challenges or limitations associated with hydrogen trains?
One challenge is the transportation of hydrogen for refueling, which currently requires a diesel-powered truck. However, efforts are being made to transition to on-site hydrogen production to minimize such challenges. Additionally, the carbon footprint associated with transporting the train for a short-term demonstration is a valid concern, although the long-term goal is to promote widespread adoption and offset any environmental impact.