China is set to launch its first hydrogen-powered train on Wednesday, 18th January 2023. The train, a joint venture between CRRC Changchun and Chengdu Rail Transit, is set to debut in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in Southwest China. The train can travel at speeds of up to 99mph (160 kph) and uses the same technology as the fluxing bullet train. It has built-in hydrogen power technology and a 373-mile (600 kilometer) battery life.
Hydrogen is considered an environmentally friendly clean energy source, as the only byproduct when burned as fuel is water vapor. It does not produce harmful pollutants or greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, which are associated with burning fossil fuels. Hydrogen can also be quickly produced from other sources, including renewable resources like wind, hydropower, and solar, furthering its potential as a clean energy option.
China’s first hydrogen-powered train works on a hydrogen fuel cell and a supercapacitor, which were put in place of the old catenary power supply. In a hydrogen fuel cell, the electrochemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen yields energy, with water as the only byproduct. The reaction process is also said to be quiet and stable. Experts have pointed out that a hydrogen-powered train can travel back and forth 311 miles (500km) in a single day, helping to cut carbon emissions by up to 10,000 kg per year.
The train is no longer restricted by the need for a wire, rope, or chain hanging freely from two ends, which can also help save on maintenance and infrastructure costs associated with electrification transition projects. China is working to produce environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with plans to produce nearly 50,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on roads by 2025 and to have between 100,000 and 200,000 metric tons of hydrogen from renewable energy each year.
As of the end of 2022, China had produced about 270 hydrogen refueling stations, which is a small network compared to the country’s massive network of electric vehicle charging stations. Chinese truck maker FAW Jiefang sent 300 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles from the province of Jilin to customers in Northeast China, Shanghai, Beijing, Shanxi, and other places, which were mainly used in city development applications and logistics.