Hungarian fossil fuel company teams up with Alstom for hydrogen trains

Alstom and MOL Group, an oil and gas company in Hungary, are to jointly research the use of hydrogen technology for rail transport. The two companies have signed a letter of intent to this end. MOL Group produces and uses almost 150,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year.

Hungary wants to play a leading role in the transition to zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050. The country is therefore investigating the feasibility of using hydrogen propulsion for Hungarian rail traffic. Train builder Alstom has already gained considerable experience with hydrogen with the Coradia iLint.

In September 2018, Alstom launched the Coradia iLint on the German market. These trains have already travelled more than 200,000 kilometres with zero CO2 emissions in Germany and Austria, and have also been successfully tested in the Netherlands. In addition, SNCF (France) and FNM (Italy) have already invested in Alstom’s hydrogen technology. According to the company, it is a proven cost-effective and sustainable alternative form of propulsion.

Time for hydrogen

According to MOL Group, the time is ripe to produce hydrogen with lower carbon intensity, in line with regulations and consumer expectations, and also to exploit mobility know-how to the maximum, said Zsolt Hernádi, Managing Director of MOL Group. “As the largest fuel supplier for the rail sector, we are pleased to join forces with Alstom. This cooperation will allow us to explore the potential of hydrogen supply and related infrastructure development in one of the most sustainable mobility services, rail transport”.

Hydrogen infrastructure

The hydrogen trains in the Coradia iLint series are electric trains with a hydrogen fuel cell, which is responsible for generating electricity on board. Hydrogen is the primary energy source for these trains: all electricity is generated by taking oxygen from the air and mixing it with hydrogen within the fuel cell. The trains are also equipped with a battery, which stores braking energy, assists acceleration and provides power for on-board systems.

An energy management system constantly monitors the train’s power consumption, taking into account the track ahead, including slopes. This makes a range of up to 1,000 kilometres possible, with the hydrogen train emitting only water. Use of these trains logically requires hydrogen refuelling stations. To set up such an infrastructure, Alstom has already joined forces with other oil and gas companies such as Linde in Germany and Orlen in Poland.

Budapest

Hungary is part of Alstom’s Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) cluster, which is the most diverse in Europe with 7,000 employees, an industrial presence in nine countries and commercial activities in eight countries. Alstom currently has a commercial office in Budapest and employs more than 660 people at its rolling stock production site in Mátranovák. This site produces for example bogie frames.

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Author: Paul van den Bogaard

Paul van den Bogaard is editor of SpoorPro, a sister title of RailTech

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