is just a rollin’ down the tracks……
By George Harvey
Things have changed since the old days, when coal-powered steam engines chugged through the countryside, polluting everything in sight and occasionally setting farm fields on fire. Nevertheless, they had their advantages, and these remain. It is far less expensive to transport by rail than it is to use road vehicles, and with modern power units carbon emissions are far lower.
Now, however, we can say that in one case the carbon emissions have been reduced to nearly nothing. Alstom, a French company specializing in manufacturing for rail systems, announced that its new train model, the Coradia iLint will run on a regular schedule for the first time, between Buxtehude, a small city near Hamburg, and Cuxhaven, a town on the coast of the North Sea.
This train runs on waste.
It is quiet, and it is clean.
The Coradia iLint is a new member of Alstom’s Lint line, whose name is an acronym of “Leichter Innovativer Nahverkehrstriebwagen,” German for “light, innovative, local rail vehicle.” One thing that makes the Coradia iLint especially innovative is its propulsion. It is the world’s first hydrogen-powered train to be put into regular operation.
The Coradia iLint is a two-car passenger train. It has a fuel cell, which generates electricity from the hydrogen in an on-board tank and oxygen from the air, producing water as a by-product. The on-board hydrogen tank contains enough fuel to run the train for 390 to 500 miles, at speeds of up to 87 miles per hour. Hamburg and Cuxhaven are about 50 miles apart, and there are two additional stops on the route, so it is likely that the train could make eight round trips on a single tank of fuel.
From an environmental point of view, the train has two important advantages. The first is that it is about as close to silent as a train could be. It is said to make only two sounds in normal operation. One is the sound of the wheels on the tracks. The other is the sound of the rushing of the wind it pushes as it rolls down the track.
The other environmental advantage is its fuel. The hydrogen is processed into water by the fuel cell, which would suggest that it is environmentally neutral, aside from the electricity used to make the hydrogen from water. In the case of the particular train in question, however, no electricity is used to make the hydrogen. It is a by-product of a chemical operation, waste that is now trapped and compressed to power a train.
This train runs on waste. It is quiet, and it is clean.