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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.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

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[edit]

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.[7]


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[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Graham-Rowe, D. (2008). "Do the locomotion". Nature. 454 (7208): 1036–7. doi:10.1038/4541036a. PMID 18756218. 
  2. ^ Minkel, J. R. (2006). "A Smashing Bad Time for the United States". IEEE Spectrum. 43: 12. doi:10.1109/MSPEC.2006.1665046. 
  3. ^ Jones, W. D. (2009). "Fuel cells could power a streetcar revival". IEEE Spectrum. 46: 15. doi:10.1109/MSPEC.2009.5210050. 
  4. ^ Jones, W. D. (2006). "Hydrogen on Track". IEEE Spectrum. 43: 10. doi:10.1109/MSPEC.2006.1665045. 
  5. ^ Delucchi, M. A.; Jacobson, M. Z. (2010). "Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II: Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies". Energy Policy. 39 (3): 1170–1190. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.045. 
  6. ^ Marin, G. D.; Naterer, G. F.; Gabriel, K. (2010). "Rail transportation by hydrogen vs. Electrification – Case study for Ontario, Canada, II: Energy supply and distribution". International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. 35: 6097. doi:10.1016/j.ijhydene.2010.03.095. 
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ Sandia Corporation (2004). Fuel-Cell-Powered Mine Locomotive. Sandia National Laboratories.
  9. ^ Development of the World's First Fuel Cell Hybrid Railcar. (11 April 2006) East japan Railway Company. Accessed 6 Feb 2011.
  10. ^ "Japanese fuel cell rail vehicle in running tests". Fuel Cells Bulletin. 2006 (12): 2–3. 2006. doi:10.1016/S1464-2859(06)71254-8. ISSN 1464-2859. 
  11. ^ World's first hydrogen fuel train tested in Taiwan. People's Daily (13 April 2007).
  12. ^ Adamson, Dr. Kerry-Ann (July 2007). 2007-Niche transport survey (PDF). Fuel Cell Today.
  13. ^ BNSF Railway and Vehicle Projects Demonstrate Experimental Hydrogen-Fuel-Cell Switch Locomotive. BNSF Railway (29 June 2009)
  15. ^ "Indonesia high speed hydrogen train feasibility study". The Hydrogen Journal. 13 Jan 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  16. ^ Adamrah, Mustaqim (8 Jan 2010). "RI could have a super high speed train as early as 2012". Jakarta Post. Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  17. ^ FEVE hydrogen tram
  18. ^ Europe's first hydrogen powered train. The Hydrogen Train Project.
  19. ^ Denmark wants Europe's first hydrogen train
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ First UK hydrogen train takes passengers for a ride
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ China introduces first light-rail train with new-energy fuel cells. People's Daily (29 Nov. 2010)
  24. ^ Amplats testing fuel cell-powered loco at Rustenburg mine
  25. ^ Partnership to produce five fuel cell mine locomotives
  26. ^ Alstom to develop a new emission-free train for passengers in Germany
  27. ^ https://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article158262466/Erster-Wasserstoff-Zug-der-Welt-faehrt-in-Deutschland.html
  28. ^ a b Dubai-streetcar
  29. ^ Powered future starts in trams, not cars

External links[edit]