12 Sep 2022, 13:37
Sören Amelang

German railway proposes large-scale green hydrogen transportation on trains

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s national railway operator Deutsche Bahn plans to transport large amounts of green hydrogen on trains, offering an alternative to transport through non-existent pipelines. “Freight subsidiary DB Cargo wants to transport urgently needed hydrogen by freight train in the future,” the state-owned company said. "This concept represents an efficient alternative to hydrogen pipelines," which have yet to be installed, the company said. "There are currently many new initiatives to bring green hydrogen to Germany by sea," Sigrid Nikutta, head of DB Cargo, added. "We have developed a solution that brings hydrogen easily and efficiently from the ports to consumers in the hinterland, particularly to our industrial customers. In this way, we are creating a safe and efficient supply chain for the German economy."

Hydrogen is usually bound in liquids like ammonia when transported to Germany in order to simplify transportation via ships, Deutsche Bahn said. “In cooperation with energy suppliers, DB Cargo has developed a concept for transport to recipients far from seaports,” the company said. “The hydrogen is left in this liquid bond. This means that the usual tank wagons can be used for rail freight transport.” It added that the tank wagons are already used by the chemical industry. “Only when hydrogen is to be used as an energy source is the cargo ‘cracked’ back into its components, the hydrogen separated and used as an energy carrier,” the company said.

In the fight against climate change, hydrogen made with renewable electricity is seen as a vital tool for decarbonising sectors with particularly stubborn emissions, such as heavy industry and aviation. Germany is set to import the lion’s share of its future green hydrogen requirements because it doesn’t have the space required for the additional renewable power production.

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