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Tech JR East to develop Japan’s first hydrogen-powered train

News stories related to technology and innovation.


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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Hydrogen-powered trains have already undergone extensive testing in the UK, Germany, and several other countries. Now, JR East is jumping on the bandwagon, too.

We are not far away from Nambu Line, and I'm looking forward to seeing this baby tested. :)


Photo credit: JR East

East Japan Railway Co. said it is partnering with Toyota Motor Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. to develop a test train powered by hydrogen fuel-cell technology and a storage battery. In announcing the partnership Oct. 6, the railway operator said it plans to begin testing in March 2022 and aims to eventually put the train into practical use, as part of its long-term goal of slamming the brakes on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. It would be the first train in Japan to run on hydrogen power without emitting CO2. The test vehicle will be a two-car train. Toyota will develop the hydrogen fuel-cell equipment, while Hitachi will develop the storage battery. The train is expected to reach speeds of up to 140 kph using high-pressure hydrogen, officials said. Testing will begin on the JR Tsurumi and Nanbu lines in Kanagawa Prefecture outside Tokyo. JR East said it will invest about 4 billion yen ($37.8 million) in the project. The cost includes development and testing. It aims to achieve zero CO2 emissions in fiscal 2050.

Source: JR East plans to develop Japan’s 1st train to run on hydrogen: The Asahi Shimbun

More on hydrogen-powered trains:

The way hydrogen powers a train like the Hydroflex is quite simple. The fuel cell is made up of an anode, a cathode and an electrolyte membrane. The stored hydrogen passes through the anode, where it is split into electrons and protons. The electrons are then forced through a circuit that generates an electric charge that can be stored in lithium batteries or sent directly to the train’s electric motor. The leftover part of the hydrogen molecule reacts with oxygen at the cathode and becomes the waste product – water. The Hydroflex’s hydrogen tanks, fuel cell and batteries currently sit inside a passenger car, but the ultimate plan is to store them underneath the train in order to fit in more passengers. Hydrogen is of course extremely flammable, but on the Hydroflex it is stored in four secured high-pressure tanks, one of a range of measures to ensure passengers’ safety.


Sailing away...
3 Aug 2007
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With Japan's electric train infrastructure I'm not sure I see the point in doing this. Its a neat idea and would probably be worth it if there weren't existing powered rail lines to use.


6 Mar 2003
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I think there are still rural routes that depend on diesel.
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