Hydrail is the generic term denoting all forms of rail vehicles, large or small, which use on-board hydrogen as a source of energy to power the traction motors, or the auxiliaries, or both. Hydrail vehicles convert the chemical energy of hydrogen to mechanical energy, either by burning hydrogen in a hydrogen internal combustion engine vehicle, or by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to run electric motors. Widespread use of hydrogen for fueling rail transportation is a basic element of the proposed hydrogen economy. The term is used extensively by research scholars and technicians around the world. The first hydrail streetcars are slated for service in Dubai and Aruba.
Hydrail vehicles are usually hybrid vehicles with renewable energy storage, such as batteries or super capacitors, for regenerative braking, improving efficiency and lowering the amount of hydrogen storage required. Potential hydrail applications include all types of rail transport: commuter rail; passenger rail; freight rail; light rail; rail rapid transit; mine railways; industrial railway systems; trams; and special rail rides at parks and museums.
International Hydrail Conferences
Each year Appalachian State University and others organize an International Hydrail Conference, bringing together scientists, engineers and industrial experts working on the technology around the world in order to expedite deployment of the technology for environmental, climate, energy security and economic development reasons. Previous conferences have been held in Herning, Denmark; Valencia, Spain; Charlotte, North Carolina, Salisbury, North Carolina, Istanbul, Turkey, University of Birmingham, UK, Toronto, Canada and Neumünster, Germany. Presenters at these conferences have included national and state/provincial agencies from the USA, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United Nations (UNIDO-ICHET).
The term hydrail was coined on February 17, 2004 in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy as a search engine target word to enable scholars and technicians around the world working in the hydrogen rail area to more easily publish and locate all work done in the discipline.
A hydrolley is a streetcar or tram (trolley) using hydrail technology. The term (for hydrogen trolley) was coined at the Fourth International Hydrail Conference, Valencia, Spain, in 2008, as a research-simplifying search engine target word. Onboard hydrogen-derived power eliminates the need for overhead trolley arms and track electrification, greatly reducing construction cost, reducing visual pollution and eliminating the maintenance expense of track electrification. The term 'hydrolley' is preferred to 'hydrail light rail' or other combinations which might connote external electrification.
Projects and prototypes
- In 2002 the first 3.6 tonne, 17 kW, hydrogen-powered mining locomotive for Placer Dome was demonstrated in Val-d'Or, Quebec.
- In April 2006 came the world's first hydrail railcar, which was developed by East Japan Railway Company 
- In October 2006, the Railway Technical Research Institute in Japan conducted tests on a fuel cell hydrail, a 70 ton intercity train .
- In April 2007, The mini-hydrail from the Taiwan National Science and Technology Museum and Taiwan Fuel Cell Partnership combination made its first educational ride.
- In 2007, The Railway Technical Research Institute in Japan built two 62 ton passenger cars, each with a 450 kW PEM fuel cell and a 150 kW battery.
- In 2008, the East Japan Railway Company in Japan tested its experimental "NE Train" hybrid train fitted with two 65 kW PEM fuel cells and 19 kWh lithium ion batteries for a short period in the Nagano area.
- In 2009, BNSF Railway unveiled the first hydrail Vehicle Projects HH20B switcher-locomotive, powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
- In 2010, a 357-kilometre (222 mi) high-speed hydrail line was proposed in Indonesia. The rail link, now under feasibility study, would connect several cities in Java with a hydrogen-powered maglev system.
- 2011 FEVE and the University of Valladolid (CIDAUT) launched the FC Tram H2 Project in Asturias using a converted FABIOLOS series 3400 from SNCV. It can carry up to 30 passengers with a maximum speed of 20 km/h.
- 2012 The Hydrogen Train Project in Denmark is attempting to build Europe's first hydrogen powered train using hydrogen in an internal combustion engine.
- 2012 The mini-hydrail Hydrogen Pioneer Train from the University of Birmingham, a scaled powertrain for configuration testing.
- 2012 -2014 testing has been underway on the hydrail concept in China. In November 2010, Southwest Jiaotong University demonstrated their first hydrail prototype.
- 2012 - Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) in South Africa and Vehicle Projects Inc. launched 5 PEMFC Trident new era locomotives at the Dishaba mine with reversible metal-hydride storage for testing.
- 2014 Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and the Public Transportation Authorities of Hesse signed a letter of intent with Alstom Transport for trials with 2 fuel cell Alstom Coradia trains by 2018.
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- Emaar launches Dubai trolley, new tram system in downtown Dubai
- Tig-m streetcar
- Stan Thompson and Jim Bowman (2004) "The Mooresville Hydrail Initiative", International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 29(4): 438, in "News and Views" (a non-peer-reviewed section)
- Sandia Corporation (2004). Fuel-Cell-Powered Mine Locomotive. Sandia National Laboratories.
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- World's first hydrogen fuel train tested in Taiwan. People's Daily (13 April 2007).
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- BNSF Railway and Vehicle Projects Demonstrate Experimental Hydrogen-Fuel-Cell Switch Locomotive. BNSF Railway (29 June 2009)
- CAEDZ Project site: HYDRAIL: PRELIMINARY PROPOSAL
- "Indonesia high speed hydrogen train feasibility study". The Hydrogen Journal. 13 Jan 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
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- FEVE hydrogen tram
- Europe's first hydrogen powered train. The Hydrogen Train Project.
- Denmark wants Europe's first hydrogen train
- Hoffrichter, Andreas; Fisher, Peter; Tutcher, Jonathan; Hillmansen, Stuart; Roberts, Clive (2014). "Performance evaluation of the hydrogen-powered prototype locomotive ‘Hydrogen Pioneer’". Journal of Power Sources 250: 120–127. doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2013.10.134. ISSN 0378-7753.
- First UK hydrogen train takes passengers for a ride
- Peng, Fei; Chen, WeiRong; Liu, Zhixiang; Li, Qi; Dai, Chaohua (2014). "System integration of China's first proton exchange membrane fuel cell locomotive". International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 39 (25): 13886–13893. doi:10.1016/j.ijhydene.2014.01.166. ISSN 0360-3199.
- China introduces first light-rail train with new-energy fuel cells. People's Daily (29 Nov. 2010)
- Amplats testing fuel cell-powered loco at Rustenburg mine
- Partnership to produce five fuel cell mine locomotives
- Alstom to develop a new emission-free train for passengers in Germany