Author Topic: Hydrogen powered equipment  (Read 3306 times)

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Hydrogen powered equipment
« on: 11/04/2018 09:30 am »
Britain is introducing hydrogen powered trains. With the new global warming limit of 1.5 C the space community will be under pressure to avoid fuels containing hydrocarbons.


Upper stages like the Centaur already use hydrogen. Lunar rovers and lunar bases can also burn hydrogen to make electricity.

Offline speedevil

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #1 on: 11/04/2018 12:39 pm »
A government minister announced as part of a statement to a committee that 'he wanted to see' this.
There are as I understand it no concrete plans to do so, or even a roadmap to a rollout.

Absent these, this is rhetoric on the level of 'SLS is going to put humans on Mars' - distracting a committee and the press with things for them to latch on to that there is no political consequence at all if it does not happen.

Offline Jim

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #2 on: 11/04/2018 01:09 pm »
With the new global warming limit of 1.5 C the space community will be under pressure to avoid fuels containing hydrocarbons.


No, it wont

Offline speedevil

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #3 on: 11/04/2018 01:31 pm »
With the new global warming limit of 1.5 C the space community will be under pressure to avoid fuels containing hydrocarbons.


No, it wont
Elon has made noises about wanting to be renewable.
Copenhagen suborbitals is using biofuels.

But I wholly agree this is far from a realistic medium-term constraint.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #4 on: 11/04/2018 04:25 pm »
With the new global warming limit of 1.5 C the space community will be under pressure to avoid fuels containing hydrocarbons.


No, it wont

Yes it will.

As an international public relations exercise future politicians will need to make public statements showing the USA is fighting global warming. NASA is the world's premiere scientific/engineering organisation. It will be cheaper to order NASA to display some new machine using hydrogen than say buy the US air force hydrogen powered air craft.

The Centaur is a good start. I suspect that NASA makes or buys other machines that use hydrogen.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #5 on: 11/04/2018 05:37 pm »
Hydrogen maybe green fuel but production of it isn't.

The most common hydrogen production process is natural gas reforming  sometimes called steam methane reforming because it uses high-temperature steam. When exposed to steam and heat, the carbon (C) atoms of methane (CH4) separate. After two successive reactions, they reform separately to produce hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide (co₂)). This operation therefore requires natural gas.

Offline go4mars

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #6 on: 11/04/2018 07:09 pm »
Hydrogen production can be done cheap without carbon emissions. www.proton.energy

But I agree with Jim. Not a real factor for rockets.

There are hydrogen fuel cell trains already operating in Germany.
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Offline DistantTemple

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #7 on: 11/04/2018 10:03 pm »
Hydrogen maybe green fuel but production of it isn't.

The most common hydrogen production process is natural gas reforming sometimes called steam methane reforming because it uses high-temperature steam. When exposed to steam and heat, the carbon (C) atoms of methane (CH4) separate. After two successive reactions, they reform separately to produce hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide (co₂)). This operation therefore requires natural gas.
I hope there is not some hidden agenda of support for natural gas and its newish production hiding behind Hydrogen, just like biofuels becoming an environmental disaster!

I'm glad of your post as its so easy to just assume Hydrogen is always made from water by electrolysis!
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Online spacenut

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #8 on: 11/04/2018 11:53 pm »
Did you know that in America, hydrogen is processed from natural gas.  It is easier to get the 4 atoms of hydrogen off the carbon than to get the 2 atoms off the oxygen.  So it will take a lot of natural gas to make a hydrogen infrastructure.  So it still comes from a hydrocarbon. 

It is also easier to burn the natural gas in a turbine jet engine turning a generator in front of the engine, then the exhaust hot from the engine goes through an old coal fired boiler to produce steam and turn another generator.  So the front generator uses mechanical energy to make electricity while the heat exhaust makes the other generator turn from making steam.  No coal is used. 

So, more energy can be produced from the gas, than the energy derived from making hydrogen, then burning it. 

I worked in the natural gas industry before I retired.  34% of Americas power is now from natural gas while 33% is from coal.  Around 20% is from nuclear, 10% from hydro, while the rest is from solar/wind.  Solar wind still has a very long way to go. 

I think the oil companies will continue for a long time by using algae oil to make fuel.  Also, a study was done that said all the residential natural gas in America can me made from dairy farm manure but it would cost twice as much to make than drilling/fracking.  It will come to that one day. 

Now the new rockets are going to use methane (natural gas derived), and they are going to make it on Mars.  It can also be made from sea water on earth.  I see natural gas production going way beyond oil and coal well into the future. 

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #9 on: 11/05/2018 02:07 am »
Hydrogen maybe green fuel but production of it isn't.

The most common hydrogen production process is natural gas reforming sometimes called steam methane reforming because it uses high-temperature steam. When exposed to steam and heat, the carbon (C) atoms of methane (CH4) separate. After two successive reactions, they reform separately to produce hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide (co₂)). This operation therefore requires natural gas.
I hope there is not some hidden agenda of support for natural gas and its newish production hiding behind Hydrogen, just like biofuels becoming an environmental disaster!

I'm glad of your post as its so easy to just assume Hydrogen is always made from water by electrolysis!
Note that if you have a carbon-neutral source of hydrogen, you can feed it into the Sabatier reaction along with atmospheric CO2 to produce carbon-neutral methane (CH4).   Methane, being significantly denser than H2, is generally easier to store, transport, and use.    So there's really no reason to convert anything that burns methane to use hydrogen.


Offline speedevil

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #10 on: 11/05/2018 11:28 am »
Hydrogen maybe green fuel but production of it isn't.

The most common hydrogen production process is natural gas reforming sometimes called steam methane reforming because it uses high-temperature steam. When exposed to steam and heat, the carbon (C) atoms of methane (CH4) separate. After two successive reactions, they reform separately to produce hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide (co₂)). This operation therefore requires natural gas.
I hope there is not some hidden agenda of support for natural gas and its newish production hiding behind Hydrogen, just like biofuels becoming an environmental disaster!

I'm glad of your post as its so easy to just assume Hydrogen is always made from water by electrolysis!
Note that if you have a carbon-neutral source of hydrogen, you can feed it into the Sabatier reaction along with atmospheric CO2 to produce carbon-neutral methane (CH4).   Methane, being significantly denser than H2, is generally easier to store, transport, and use.    So there's really no reason to convert anything that burns methane to use hydrogen.
This isn't free though.
The best large plant sized reference I could find was from a company with a 6MW CO2+H2->CH4 facility.
https://www.socalgas.com/1443741245923/20170309-HZI-ETOGAS-PTG-Introduction_Hamdan.pdf
This gives on page 5 a conversion efficiency for methanation of 82%.

In some cases at least, skipping conversion to methane may have a benefit.

Online Hobbes-22

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #11 on: 11/05/2018 11:40 am »
I hope there is not some hidden agenda of support for natural gas and its newish production hiding behind Hydrogen, just like biofuels becoming an environmental disaster!


The hydrogen fuel cell train is a small-scale experiment in Germany, which has lots of train routes that haven't been electrified. This train replaces a diesel.
Germany uses an oddball power system for its electric railways (15 kV at 16 2/3 Hz) which makes electrification of existing routes expensive (they either have to put in this nonstandard system, or convert to 25 kV/50 Hz and use expensive two-system locomotives).
Germany also has lots of renewable electric generation, and they're looking at hydrogen to match supply and demand.
« Last Edit: 11/05/2018 11:41 am by Hobbes-22 »

Online spacenut

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #12 on: 11/05/2018 02:47 pm »
Germany also gets their natural gas from Russia.  Germany produces 40% of their electricity from coal and are building new coal fired plants, 13% from nuclear (which is being phased out), 25-30% from all renewable sources. Renewable sources aren't paying off like they thought they would and are probably reaching peek production.  Wind is finicky, solar can't produce at night and production is reduced during cloudy weather. 

Also, don't know if you guys know this or not, but offshore hydrates contain about 10,000 year supply of natural gas.  Japan is working on a system to tap this resource off their country.  If so they would be energy independent of oil.  Ours is in the Bermuda Triangle.  This is one reason for ships and planes to disappear over the years.  When hydrates are released as gas, ships can sink and planes can explode drawing in natural gas into their engines. 

I know that it seems like natural gas will be the future of rocketry in the near future.  Plentiful, low cost, infrastructure in place, clean burning, and can be made on Mars.  Hydrogen will also be, however it may be relegated to upper stages.  Other than SLS, don't see much use for a hydrogen booster.  I think the most efficient boosters in the near future will be kerolox, metholox, and solids. 
« Last Edit: 11/05/2018 02:53 pm by spacenut »

Offline speedevil

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #13 on: 11/05/2018 03:38 pm »
I know that it seems like natural gas will be the future of rocketry in the near future.  Plentiful, low cost, infrastructure in place, clean burning, and can be made on Mars.  Hydrogen will also be, however it may be relegated to upper stages.  Other than SLS, don't see much use for a hydrogen booster.  I think the most efficient boosters in the near future will be kerolox, metholox, and solids.

Purely considering solar cost, and neglecting cost of capture plant, and assuming efficiency of 50% as the above plant obtains to make methane from water+CO2.
Current solar panels in bulk are bouncing around the 30 cents per W level.

Currently, natural gas is around $3.5/MMBtu. (It has spiked as high as $10 for several months in the last 15 years).

This is a hair over a gigajoule, 300kWh or 20kg of LNG.

Over a 20 year life, in a very good location, you get 32kWh/W out of the solar panel.
So, you need about twenty watts of solar panel to make one MMBtu worth of LNG.

Or, around $6 worth of panels.

The price of LNG has exceeded this for most of a year in the past decade or so.

Of course, this is neglecting a lot, but it shows that solar-LNG is probably not - in large quantities - an order of magnitude more expensive than LNG.

Online spacenut

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #14 on: 11/05/2018 03:53 pm »
So the best place to make solar/gas is a desert area near the ocean.  Still, when I was still working, they told us drilling/fracking was cheaper.  We also studied algae production, dairy farm/feed lot production of gas.  Both were still higher than drilling.  Once the drilling is done, and the gas tapped.  It comes out of the ground until it runs out without any other expense.  We had a well in Mobile bay that hit over 1,400 psi when tapped.  It was still over 1,400 psi about 10 years later. 

My company did study and implement some alternatives.  Cost didn't justify expense.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #15 on: 11/05/2018 04:35 pm »
I know that it seems like natural gas will be the future of rocketry in the near future.  Plentiful, low cost, infrastructure in place, clean burning, and can be made on Mars.  Hydrogen will also be, however it may be relegated to upper stages.  Other than SLS, don't see much use for a hydrogen booster.  I think the most efficient boosters in the near future will be kerolox, metholox, and solids.

Current solar panels in bulk are bouncing around the 30 cents per W level.


It would be better to look at the cost of a solar farm, not the solar panels.

Quote
This solar farm in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India has a capacity of 648 megawatts and covers an area of 10 square kilometres. In 2016, this project was deemed to be the largest solar power plant at a single location. The project comprises 2.5 million individual solar modules and cost approximately 679 million USD to build.
https://www.originenergy.com.au/blog/lifestyle/5-largest-solar-farms-in-the-world.html

So, about a dollar per watt. Costs may have come down since 2016, but you also have to factor in this was built in India. Given this, when you count land costs, financing over 20 years, the methane production plant, transportation, etc., an order of magnitude may be high but also may be not far off.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #16 on: 11/05/2018 04:59 pm »
With the new global warming limit of 1.5 C the space community will be under pressure to avoid fuels containing hydrocarbons.


No, it wont

Yes it will.

As an international public relations exercise future politicians will need to make public statements showing the USA is fighting global warming. NASA is the world's premiere scientific/engineering organisation. It will be cheaper to order NASA to display some new machine using hydrogen than say buy the US air force hydrogen powered air craft.

The Centaur is a good start. I suspect that NASA makes or buys other machines that use hydrogen.

Rocket launches are something to the effect of 0.00003% of all carbon dioxide pollution.

There are far, FAR bigger fish to fry.

Jim is absolutely correct.
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Offline RonM

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #17 on: 11/05/2018 06:23 pm »
With the new global warming limit of 1.5 C the space community will be under pressure to avoid fuels containing hydrocarbons.


No, it wont

Yes it will.

As an international public relations exercise future politicians will need to make public statements showing the USA is fighting global warming. NASA is the world's premiere scientific/engineering organisation. It will be cheaper to order NASA to display some new machine using hydrogen than say buy the US air force hydrogen powered air craft.

The Centaur is a good start. I suspect that NASA makes or buys other machines that use hydrogen.

Rocket launches are something to the effect of 0.00003% of all carbon dioxide pollution.

There are far, FAR bigger fish to fry.

Jim is absolutely correct.

Yes. Even a thousand BFR launches per year in a full Mars settlement program would have little impact on global CO2.

As seen in previous posts, the biggest near-term reduction in CO2 would be converting coal power plants to natural gas. Just convincing people to turn off lights and computers when not in use would have a big impact.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #18 on: 11/06/2018 06:55 pm »

Yes. Even a thousand BFR launches per year in a full Mars settlement program would have little impact on global CO2.

As seen in previous posts, the biggest near-term reduction in CO2 would be converting coal power plants to natural gas. Just convincing people to turn off lights and computers when not in use would have a big impact.

True but that is engineering not politics.

Offline RonM

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #19 on: 11/06/2018 08:14 pm »

Yes. Even a thousand BFR launches per year in a full Mars settlement program would have little impact on global CO2.

As seen in previous posts, the biggest near-term reduction in CO2 would be converting coal power plants to natural gas. Just convincing people to turn off lights and computers when not in use would have a big impact.

True but that is engineering not politics.

Don't forget politics has various sides. Some care about reducing CO2 and some do not. If all politicians listened to scientists and engineers then they would make logical decisions.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #20 on: 11/06/2018 08:58 pm »

Don't forget politics has various sides. Some care about reducing CO2 and some do not. If all politicians listened to scientists and engineers then they would make logical decisions.

Since this is a propaganda exercise someone from public relations can show the politicians:
* hydrogen launcher - SLS
* hydrogen first stage - Centaur from ULA
* hydrogen small lunar lander - MX-1 from Moon Express (hydrogen peroxide)
* hydrogen heavy lunar lander - Xeus from ULA and Masten

A fuel cell powering something will complete the set.

Offline DreamyPickle

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #21 on: 11/07/2018 10:02 am »
The impact of rocket fuels on global warming is relatively small. The reason so many people are in favor of a "carbon tax" is that it would impact industries proportional to their fuel use rather than chaotic public pressures.

For rocketry the cost of the propellant is such a small component that even extremely large taxes on fuel would not warrant a switch.

However "hydrogen powered equipment" was proposed as part of exploration missions, this makes a lot more sense because there it competes against batteries. But I don't know if anyone studied this closely and the difficulty of storing cryogenic fuels in a rover-like form factor might offset the greater energy density.

Offline speedevil

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #22 on: 11/07/2018 12:08 pm »

However "hydrogen powered equipment" was proposed as part of exploration missions, this makes a lot more sense because there it competes against batteries. But I don't know if anyone studied this closely and the difficulty of storing cryogenic fuels in a rover-like form factor might offset the greater energy density.
That depends rather how you define rover.

However, a useful point to note is that commercial off-the-shelf dewars can store 30l, with a mass of 15kg, in an office environment for over 6 months, for around $1000.

Methane is so much denser than hydrogen (10*), that even if you need to reform it before going to a fuel cell, it may be worth it, as it shrinks your tank mass.

Clearly - in some places, methane is going to be a lot harder to make, and hydrogen may win solely for that.

Offline lamontagne

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #23 on: 11/07/2018 12:19 pm »
Don't know about other companies, but Musk has mentionned that they will be producing their methane from solar, as soon as they can.  Once you have the hydrogen, producing the methane from CO2 does not take much energy.  Almost all of the energy goes into the electrolysis.  CH4 holds less energy than H2, after all.
If BFR phases out the smaller vehicles, then the real energy source for the BFR system would be solar.  Can't be much greener than that.

Offline speedevil

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #24 on: 11/07/2018 12:40 pm »
Don't know about other companies, but Musk has mentionned that they will be producing their methane from solar, as soon as they can. 
At the above mentioned efficiency of 50%, and assuming you get out oxygen for free, as seems reasonable, to provide power to replace all F9 and add starlink launches means at some 1000 tons of methane per launch, somewhere not too far off 50ktons/year of methane.
2*10^15J, or 60MWav.
Some 200MW worth of fixed orientation panel - or a little over a kilometer in diameter of panels.

This is equivalent to two quarters worth of production at solarcity levels.

I note the obvious business opportunity for them to branch out mass producing earthly ISRU, if they can get the cost down enough, which would have obvious benefits for Mars.
Storing energy as methane is nearly trivial, compared to the expense of batteries.
(yes, losses of >50% are significant)

Offline Norm38

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #25 on: 11/07/2018 05:26 pm »
Hydrogen isn't a fuel, never has been, as there's nowhere to get it.  It is an energy storage mechanism.  And given the efficiency losses in producing it, it makes absolutely no sense to power anything off hydrogen that can be powered from electricity.
That's why hydrogen fuel cells never took off while Tesla is succeeding.  Build a bunch of electrical generation, hydrogen production facilities, pipelines or tankers, distribution infrastructure and stations to fill up.
Versus everyone plugs their cars into an outlet with a much higher efficiency.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #26 on: 11/07/2018 06:03 pm »
Hydrogen isn't a fuel, never has been, as there's nowhere to get it.  It is an energy storage mechanism.  And given the efficiency losses in producing it, it makes absolutely no sense to power anything off hydrogen that can be powered from electricity.
That's why hydrogen fuel cells never took off while Tesla is succeeding.  Build a bunch of electrical generation, hydrogen production facilities, pipelines or tankers, distribution infrastructure and stations to fill up.
Versus everyone plugs their cars into an outlet with a much higher efficiency.

Way oversimplified analysis. Energy efficiency doesn't matter to consumers, what matters is cost which factors in energy consumption but is not the sole factor. Well, that and experiential factors like ease of use and convenience. And on that basis, something like the Hyundai Nexo at a cost of $62,000 would be a perfectly legitimate choice over a Tesla Model X 100D with somewhat equivalent range at $99,500 (360-80 miles vs 295 miles). Per mile fuel costs are hardly an overwhelming factor. Supercharging rates in California are 26 cents yielding a per mile cost of about 8-9 cents. At home charging prices are 18 cents per kilowatt or a per mile rate of 6 cents per mile (let's just call it 7 cents average). Hydrogen costs in the same market are about $14 yielding a per mile cost of about 21 cents. The break even point derived from the 14 cent per mile spread is therefore 270,000 miles. That's essentially car end of life.

I don't know, we will see what happens. But the main point is that nobody is buying cars based on the energy efficiency sticker. ICE cars are still stomping on electrics, and so the whole thesis that energy efficiency is going to be the determining factor is suspect. And it isn't like fuel cell cars or hydrogen production efficiency can't improve - which we have already seen when comparing the Nexo vs the Mirai.

Anyways, bringing this back to the forum's purpose so this doesn't get locked, I figured that a fuel cell lunar rover was superior to an electric because it could provide a significant portion of global access without charging stations all over the moon. For that reason alone, I hope that fuel cells on earth find their niche to provide the technology and industrial base to make that happen. If not in cars, then perhaps in airplanes (or maybe just in military vehicles as they might care about CO2 emissions, but fuel pricing might not be a huge factor).
« Last Edit: 11/07/2018 06:42 pm by ncb1397 »

Offline SherryWArredondo

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Re: Hydrogen powered equipment
« Reply #27 on: 01/18/2019 06:42 am »

There are hydrogen fuel cell trains already operating in Germany.

Yes. I was reading about it here: https://www.hydrogenics.com/hydrogen-products-solutions/fuel-cell-power-systems/hydrail/developments-in-hydrail/ . It's running in Germany now. But are they are not available for commercial service? Is any other country other than UK and Germany planning it?
« Last Edit: 01/18/2019 08:06 am by SherryWArredondo »

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