Toyota and Hitachi develop hydrogen drive for rail

Toyota and Hitachi develop hydrogen drive for rail-hydrogen

Toyota is making the fuel cell drive fit for the rails. The automaker has agreed with East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and conglomerate Hitachi to jointly develop rail vehicles that use hydrogen-powered fuel cells and storage batteries for propulsion.

The transport of people and goods by rail is traditionally superior to other modes of transport in terms of environmental characteristics. Partners want to further improve this property with the development of test vehicles to reduce the effects of rail traffic to the environment to a minimum and contribute to the realization of a sustainable society.

The three partners contribute their respective strengths to the development project: JR East provides the development and production technologies for rail vehicles, Hitachi develops hybrid drive technologies, and Toyota develops fuel cell systems for the Mirai car model and commercial vehicles such as the Sora fuel cell bus. The aim of the partners is to adapt the fuel cells used in automobiles for use in rail vehicles.

As in the Mirai, the fuel cell on the train converts the hydrogen carried in 20 tanks into electrical energy by reacting with oxygen. This is sent via the hybrid propulsion system to the electric motors to propel the train. In addition, electricity is also stored in a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 240 kWh.

While Toyota supplies the fuel cell unit, Hitachi develops the hybrid drive system including converter and battery. The train is based on a JR East FV-E991 series rail vehicle; With the model drawing “HYBARI” (Hydrogen-Hybrid Advanced Rail Vehicle for Innovation), the project partners refer to the hydrogen drive and the hybrid system. Test operation is scheduled to start in March 2022.

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10 thoughts on “Toyota and Hitachi develop hydrogen drive for rail”

  1. Here the hydrogen drive is probably the most nonsensical. A lot of electricity is uselessly wasted just to avoid having to electrify the routes.

    Has no one ever calculated how many years the electrification of the routes will pay off after? – the politicians probably only think until the next election.

  2. For some reason, these routes have so far been powered by diesel. So it’s better if they are operated CO2-free with hydrogen and batteries in the future, not?
    … and even if it has already been explained dozens of times and apparently never understood by the battery freaks: If we decarbonize the entire energy industry and produce electricity primarily with photovoltaics and wind energy, there will be a huge need to store energy that is generated at the wrong moment. As early as 2019, 5 TWh of wind energy was curtailed in Germany, although less than 40% of electricity production (let alone energy production) came from PV and wind.
    Sector-integrated electrolysis operated (e.g.B. Waste heat for district heating, etc.) is one of the few ways to reasonably efficiently store large amounts of energy for long periods of time and convert it back into electricity.

  3. Trains in particular are ideal for storing batteries and using them effectively.
    It takes a lot of energy to get the train moving, little to keep it moving, and then negative energy to slow it down.
    In my opinion, electrifying the station is enough. A boom is then recharged during the standing phase and energy is taken directly from the overhead line when starting, and the battery is connected until the next stop.

    Why introduce a whole new system when e-Loss already exists. The addition of the battery is then relatively cheap. I don’t want to start again from 3-4 times the amount of electricity for H2.

  4. @Mark Muller: The unused electricity from wind turbines could be used for hydrogen in shipping and for stationary systems in industry.

    Industry should use the energy source hydrogen, which is subsidized with tax money, otherwise they are always available for subsidies. But here they obviously don’t want to use the subsidized hydrogen themselves, but rather sell hydrogen cars to motorists – why actually?

    @Tesla-Z: The keyword is regenerative braking and has been used in electric locomotives for a long time, see

    “Like any electrodynamic brake, the regenerative brake works wear-free. The braking effect is achieved by operating the traction motors as electrical generators. … the electrical energy recovered from the kinetic energy … is either fed back into the catenary network or stored in a storage device in the vehicle, for example an accumulator or supercapacitor.(Source: Wikipedia)

    So you don’t need expensive giant batteries in rail traffic for thousands of locomotives, you just have to lay overhead lines everywhere.

  5. it was about routes that had not yet been electrified. Not everything has to be electrified, only the station, where there is electricity anyway.

    a cost comparison must be made as to whether it is cheaper to fully electrify or to drive intermediate sections with a battery.

    In any case, I completely reject the H2 idea.

  6. Water vapor as an exhaust gas is probably the sexiest of all energy uses and climate protection. The future belongs to hydrogen from 100% green electricity, even if its production seems inefficient at first glance. Since we are only transforming one form of energy into another, and in the end only water vapor comes out, any costs should be irrelevant, especially since excess electricity is used for this. Hydrogen technology can be expanded and will lead us into a new energy age at the latest once fusion power plants are ready for the market. Until then, development work must be done on meaningful projects. Trains, ships, trucks and airplanes are predestined for this.

  7. I can only agree with @Teslar-Z’s comment.
    The development of a hydrogen economy is of course necessary and of course you can use it to convert excess electricity into H2 and store it in the long term. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with the use in vehicles. Routes with heavy traffic are already electrified today. More could be expanded. Works or shunting operation can certainly be done quite simply electrically. In regional traffic, I also tend to see the battery. On the one hand, batteries can be easily accommodated in locomotives, tenders (used to be used for coal) or wagons, and on the other hand, you can easily recharge electricity at the stops. An advantage of an electric locomotive would also be that it can travel the electrified routes without restrictions. With a tender system one could possibly. expand normal electric locomotives with battery operation.

  8. With all the debates about H2 and BEV jubilation, I’m reading this right now: https://www.electric car Car News.not&utm_campaign=ceb9b05081-Mail_from_09102017_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a13cad7d1b-ceb9b05081-154230105


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