Mobilizing buses and trains with H2

Hydrogen is gaining traction as a source of fuel for local transit networks across the globe. Linde Hydrogen FuelTech is paving the way with pioneering fueling station concepts, innovative technologies and groundbreaking projects.

  • Using hydrogen to power local transit can cut harmful, ozone-depleting emissions while improving air quality in urban areas
  • Linde Hydrogen FuelTech continues to drive expansion of the H2 fueling infrastructure for buses and trains around the globe
  • Covering the entire hydrogen value chain, Linde has established a leading position in the H2 fueling space and is particularly renowned for its high-performance technologies to refuel fuel-cell vehicles, and is also offering more and more concepts for green hydrogen.

Things are tightening up in Europe. From 2021 onwards, European Union legislation mandates that 45 percent of all new buses must be zero-emission vehicles. This figure is set to rise to 65 percent from 2025 onwards. It is part of a plan to combat climate change through a 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from buses and trucks by 2030. The legislation will also improve air quality for citizens in Europe’s cities. Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles can help on both fronts – helping to solve air quality and climate challenges. After all, the only substance that comes out of the tailpipe of a fuel-cell car is water. Japan was quick to recognize the benefits of H2 mobility and is well ahead of Europe in building out its H2 infrastructure. A move that was probably accelerated by the fact that Japan, like several other countries in Asia, has serious smog issues in its many densely populated urban centers. Japan was one of the first in the world to unveil a national hydrogen strategy back in 2017. And it set itself ambitious goals: By 2030, Japan aims to have built an H2 supply chain which will produce 300,000 tons of hydrogen and to have expanded the reach of H2 mobility. For instance, the plan includes getting 800,000 fuel-cell cars and 1,200 fuel-cell buses on the road by 2030. Other regions of the world are also investing in H2 initiatives, developing concrete hydrogen projects and working on building out climate-friendly infrastructures.

Hydrogen Fueling Station for buses in Wiesbaden, Germany: 300 kilograms of H2 can be provided in eight hours – enough for eight fuel cell buses.
Hydrogen Fueling Station for buses in Wiesbaden, Germany

H2 is part of Linde’s DNA

Local transit (or public transport) is one of the important focus applications for hydrogen, and Linde is involved in numerous projects that are advancing developments in this field. The company has pioneered many of the enabling technologies and is engaged in several groundbreaking projects. “Linde has been the driving force behind the development of hydrogen technology for almost twenty years now and was instrumental in successfully bringing hydrogen to the mobility sector,” explains Thomas Schaefer, Manager Marketing & Market Development at Linde Hydrogen FuelTech. Numerous collaborations between different industry players have transformed visions into market-ready solutions and, as a result, brought H2 to everyday life at many different places around the world. In Emeryville, California, for example, a hydrogen fueling station for buses operated by the company AC Transit opened up as early as 2011. “That was the first time that Linde’s Ionic Compressor was used in the US for refueling buses. The facility can refill twelve buses with 30 kilograms of H2 every day,” adds Schaefer.

Hydrogen Fueling Station in Bolzano, Italy
Hydrogen Fueling Station in Bolzano, Italy: The hydrogen is produced by electrolysis powered by energy from certifiable renewable sources for zero emissions from source to service.

Hydrogen bus fleet: Bolzano flagship project

The residents of South Tyrol have been able to experience the future of mobility firsthand for several years now. In the South Tyrol capital of Bolzano, five of the city’s 96 buses are powered by hydrogen. Another twelve buses will be added to the H2 fleet by the end of 2020 or the start of 2021. “Hydrogen fuel is an attractive alternative for local transit,” says Linde expert Schaefer. “It enables fast refueling windows and long driving ranges – even in winter when temperatures are low. Hydrogen fueling stations also have a relatively low power drain. In addition, fleets are – by virtue of their usage patterns – ideal for hydrogen. Buses, trains and, in some cases, trucks are continually in use, but they always return to base. So, in the first build-out step, public transport requires a much smaller infrastructure of fueling stations than cars. As a result, refueling frequency at each station is relatively high, thus accelerating return on infrastructure investment,” continues the Linde expert. Dieter Theiner, President of the Institute for Innovative Technologies (IIT) sees further benefits: “Electric buses that run on hydrogen are also resonating strongly among drivers and passengers. They offer a much smoother, more relaxing ride as they eliminate both vibrations and engine noise. Of course the best bit is the fact that they improve air quality and thus contribute to quality of life in general by doing away with harmful emissions and noise pollution. Not to mention the fact that they do this day in, day out in double shifts thanks to the reliability of the enabling technologies.” The IIT has been managing the Hydrogen Center in Bolzano since 2013 and is responsible both for generating the hydrogen and running the fueling station. In Bolzano, the vehicles travel around 200 kilometers during the day and return to the base every evening, where they are refilled in just a few minutes. Multiple Ionic Compressors from Linde are available for refueling, each one compressing the gaseous H2 to the 350-bar pressure required for the buses and to 700 bar for passenger cars. This combined bus/car fueling station can serve up to 15 buses and numerous cars. What’s more, the station’s carbon footprint is neutral: It generates hydrogen using three electrolyzers powered by energy from certifiable renewable sources for zero emissions from source to service.

Liquid hydrogen for Asia

The momentum advancing hydrogen infrastructure targeted at local transit networks is similarly strong on the other side of the globe in Asia. Hyundai and Toyota both manufacture fuel cell buses and trucks. “Linde recently built Southeast Asia’s first H2 fueling station in Malaysia. This facility also serves a local bus fleet and includes integrated on-site production of hydrogen by means of electrolysis,” elaborates Schaefer. A fueling station in Shanghai, China, also commenced operations, dispensing H2 for minibuses, trucks and cars. The hydrogen infrastructure in Japan is already extremely mature as the government started implementing its Basic Hydrogen Strategy some time ago. As such, the country is a global pioneer in the widespread adoption of H2 mobility. Schaefer is particularly keen to highlight the hydrogen fueling station for buses in Tokyo, which opened in January 2020. Equipped with Linde’s innovative, very powerful CP90/100 Cryo Pump, the facility can dispense up to 100 kilograms of H2 per hour at an inlet pressure of 2 bar only – enough for 30 fuel-cell buses per day. One of the key highlights of this fueling station in Japan is its ability to store H2 in liquid form on site, which can then be efficiently converted into compressed, gaseous H2 using Linde’s Cryo Pump technology. Liquid hydrogen (LH2) is a huge bonus: “LH2 has a higher energy density. This means that much more hydrogen can be stored in a small area. This is a huge advantage in mega cities like Tokyo where space is scarce and very expensive,” explains Schaefer. It also enables larger volumes to be transported more efficiently. “In future, fueling stations overall will have to scale up and be capable of supplying more H2. They will have to refuel more and larger vehicles such as trucks. And all this has to be done reliably and efficiently,” he continues, before highlighting another challenge: “For the market to take off quickly, costs will have to come down in the medium term. In the case of hydrogen fueling stations, this means standardization. In other words, the market for buses, trucks and trains needs the same standardized, globally valid refueling protocols that already exist for cars. These have to define factors such as the pressure and temperature at which H2 can be refueled.” Hydrogen opens up great opportunities – and not just for buses. Commercial vehicles can also benefit. Just like buses, municipal waste vehicles, road sweepers and other specialist vehicles follow scheduled routes and are usually served by a central supply station. All of these factors make it easier to set up municipal hydrogen infrastructures.

Hydrogen fueling station for buses in Tokyo, Japan
H2 fueling station for buses in Tokyo, Japan: The hydrogen is stored in liquid form (LH2) here as this has a higher energy density. The LH2 is then efficiently converted into compressed, gaseous H2 using Linde’s Cryo Pump.

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IC 90 compressor hydrogen refueling station for buses
Our compression technologies are at the heart of every H2 fueling station. Ionic technology is used to compress gaseous H2 to up to 100 MPa and the cryopump efficiently supplies hydrogen in liquid form ready for refueling.

Green H2 for bus stations

Alongside the need for fueling networks and technical standards, the H2 mobility spotlight is clearly focused on green production methods. In addition to the projects described above, Schaefer lists a number of successful initiatives in this area too: “The H2 fueling station for buses in Wiesbaden, Germany, will soon be supplied with green hydrogen from the Energiepark Mainz initiative. This facility can serve up to eight buses,” says Schaefer. A hydrogen fueling station for Europe’s largest H2 bus fleet was opened a few months ago in Cologne. The facility can refuel up to 20 vehicles a day. A bus fueling station in Aberdeen, Scotland, is another lighthouse project here. The facility has a compact footprint and is integrated into the local infrastructure. It is able to produce up to 360 kilograms of hydrogen per day – enough for more than 15 buses. The hydrogen for this station comes from renewable sources. Linde has already built over 190 H2 fueling stations around the world in locations such as Stuttgart, Hamburg and Cologne (Germany), Milan (Italy) and San Francisco (US). So when it comes to the sustainable production of H2, Linde is also leading the way and – through its joint venture ITM Linde Electrolysis – is at the cutting edge of electrolysis technologies.

Hydrogen for trains

Mobility experts are looking beyond fuel-cell buses to increasingly also focus on trains. “The benefits are obvious. Trains travel long, plannable routes and are already part of an extensive network. What’s more, in Germany, for example, only around 50 percent of the rail network is electrified,” explains Schaefer. Hydrogen could therefore be an alternative drive technology, especially for diesel locomotives with their poor climate credentials. And the first success story has already been written: the Coradia iLint train manufactured by the company Alstom. It is the world’s first passenger train to be powered by fuel cells and H2. The train produces no emissions, only steam, and is also very quiet. The Coradia iLint was unveiled at the Innotrans trade show in 2016. It started an 18-month trial period as a regional train, which was successful concluded in February 2020. Linde is playing a key role in this globally acclaimed, innovative project: “In August 2020, we started building a hydrogen fueling station for twelve Coradia iLints in Bremervörde, Germany. It is set to become operational mid-2021,” confirms Schaefer. With a capacity of around 1,600 kilograms of hydrogen a day, this is one of the nominally largest hydrogen fueling stations in the world.

The Coradia iLint manufactured by Alstom
The Coradia iLint manufactured by Alstom is the world’s first passenger train to be powered by fuel cells and H2.
Hydrogen is an attractive fuel for local transit services as fleets of buses and trains always return to base after service so a large-scale fueling network is not required in the first build-out step.

The benefits of H2 over diesel

The H2 fueling station in Bremervörde will lay the foundation for zero-emission hydrogen trains in commercial service throughout the Elbe-Weser public transport network. From the start of 2022, the 24x7 station will be refueling fourteen hydrogen-powered regional trains from Alstom on a daily basis and also on demand. With a range of 1,000 kilometers, the multiple-unit trains will be able to travel the network run by the Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser GmbH (evb) transport authority for an entire day on just one tank. The Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) are also currently trialing a Coradia iLint train in regular passenger service in southern Austria. In addition, the Zillertal Railway in Austria wants to invest in hydrogen trains. Introducing hydrogen as a fuel for trains will have a clearly positive impact on the environment as one kilogram of H2 replaces approximately 4.5 liters of diesel. The trains also require almost a third less energy than diesel-powered trains. Even the maintenance effort is around ten percent lower than their diesel counterparts. And there is potential to leverage synergies with other forms of local transit that start out from train stations. Hydrogen fueling stations for trains could, for example, be used to refuel buses and other municipal vehicles, thus increasing capacity utilization. Bremervörde is certainly in favor of the H2 concept. The station design already provides for expansion with a view to generating the hydrogen on site using electrolysis and renewable energy. It’s a solution that is guaranteed to keep green H2 on track.

 

H2 fueling stations around the globe

Fuel-cell bus operated by Californian company AC Transit

San Francisco, US

The Californian public transit agency AC Transit operates the hydrogen fueling station in Emeryville, California. It is the first publicly accessible fueling station in the San Francisco Bay Area. Twelve buses can be filled with hydrogen here every day. Part of the H2 is produced by solar-powered electrolysis. Fuel-cell cars can also use the station.
Hydrogen fueling station for buses in Bolzano, Italy.

Bolzano, Italy

Five of the 96 city buses in Bolzano, Italy, are powered by hydrogen. The fuel-cell vehicles travel 200 kilometers a day before they need to be refueled. The hydrogen is produced by electrolysis powered by energy from certifiable renewable sources for zero emissions from source to service.
Hydrogen fueling station for buses in Wiesbaden, Germany

Wiesbaden, Deutschland

The power-to-gas plant in nearby Mainz supplies the H2 fueling station for buses in Wiesbaden with green hydrogen. 300 kilograms of H2 can be provided in eight hours – enough for eight fuel cell buses.
H2 fueling station for buses in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

The H2 fueling station for buses was opened in January 2020. The hydrogen is stored in liquid form (LH2) here as this has a higher energy density. The LH2 is then efficiently converted into compressed, gaseous H2 using Linde’s Cryo Pump. Up to 100 kilograms of hydrogen can be dispensed every hour – enough for 30 fuel-cell buses per day.
H2 fueling station for buses in Aberdeen, Scotland

Aberdeen, Scotland

The H2 fueling station for buses in Aberdeen has a compact design, enabling it to be seamlessly integrated into the local infrastructure. The plant can generate up to 360 kilograms of hydrogen every day, which is enough to fuel over 15 buses. The hydrogen it generates is green as it is made using electrolysis and renewable energy.
H2 fueling station for buses in Sarawak, Malaysia

Sarawak, Malaysia

The H2 fueling station for the local bus fleet is the first in Southeast Asia. It integrates an on-site electrolysis unit to produce green hydrogen. The containerized station design is particularly compact.

H2 fueling stations around the globe

San Francisco, US

Fuel-cell bus operated by Californian company AC Transit
The Californian public transit agency AC Transit operates the hydrogen fueling station in Emeryville, California. It is the first publicly accessible fueling station in the San Francisco Bay Area. Twelve buses can be filled with hydrogen here every day. Part of the H2 is produced by solar-powered electrolysis. Fuel-cell cars can also use the station.

Bolzano, Italy

Hydrogen fueling station for buses in Bolzano, Italy.
Five of the 96 city buses in Bolzano, Italy, are powered by hydrogen. The fuel-cell vehicles travel 200 kilometers a day before they need to be refueled. The hydrogen is produced by electrolysis powered by energy from certifiable renewable sources for zero emissions from source to service.

Wiesbaden, Deutschland

Hydrogen fueling station for buses in Wiesbaden, Germany
The power-to-gas plant in nearby Mainz supplies the H2 fueling station for buses in Wiesbaden with green hydrogen. 300 kilograms of H2 can be provided in eight hours – enough for eight fuel cell buses.

Tokyo, Japan

H2 fueling station for buses in Tokyo, Japan
The H2 fueling station for buses was opened in January 2020. The hydrogen is stored in liquid form (LH2) here as this has a higher energy density. The LH2 is then efficiently converted into compressed, gaseous H2 using Linde’s Cryo Pump. Up to 100 kilograms of hydrogen can be dispensed every hour – enough for 30 fuel-cell buses per day.

Aberdeen, Scotland

H2 fueling station for buses in Aberdeen, Scotland
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