China has developed hydrogen-powered electric train

Power from fuel cells

                              In a nutshell
  • The China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) , the world’s largest rolling stock manufacturer, has developed an electric railcar powered by supercapacitors and fuel cells
  • The hydrogen-powered train has a range of 600 kilometers and can reach speeds of up to 160 km/h
  • According to government plans, by 2025 more than 50,000 electric road and rail vehicles will be running on fuel cells in China

China has developed a hydrogen-powered train. By 2025, more than 50,000 electric road and rail vehicles in the country will be powered by fuel cells.


Beijing (China). The China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), the world’s largest rolling stock manufacturer and one of the largest industrial groups, has developed an electric railcar powered by supercapacitors and fuel cells . Previously, only the French group Alstom and the German group Siemens offered hydrogen- powered trains . The Mireo Plus H from Siemens is currently being tested by Deutsche Bahn on the Lower Rhine and the Alstom Coradia iLint is already in regular service in Hesse.

Both the new CRRC electric multiple unit and both models from Europe are fueled with hydrogen . The hydrogen refueling process takes about 15 minutes, which is as quick as a train running on diesel fuel. A fuel cell then uses the hydrogen to produce electricity during the journey , which is used to drive the train’s electric motors. The resulting heat is used for heating. The hydrogen trains therefore do not cause local emissions.


Braking energy is stored in supercapacitors

As reported by the Global Times (GT), the Chinese train can recover energy during braking by using the traction motors as a generator. The energy gained in this way is stored in supercapacitors and then released again when the vehicle starts up again, which requires a particularly large amount of electricity.

The top speed of the Chinese hydrogen train is 160 km/h. The Siemens Mireo Plus H also reaches this speed, while the Alstom Coradia iLint can only accelerate to 140 km/h. The range of the CRRC train is 600 kilometers. The models from Europe have a significantly higher range of 800 to 1,000 kilometers.

50,000 hydrogen vehicles by 2025

The Chinese government plans to have more than 50,000 fuel cell electric road and rail vehicles by 2025. The problem here is that although these do not cause any local emissions, the hydrogen required is largely obtained with energy from coal and natural gas power plants. However, according to the government, around 200,000 tons of hydrogen are to be produced annually without emissions over the next two to three years.

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