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Eleventh International Hydrail Conference: a first look at the program

by guest blogger Stan Thompson

This year’s “11-IHC” is the first event since the International Hydrail Conference series began in 2005 when a major focus of the agenda will be on hydrogen fuel cell passenger railway equipment already being manufactured and in service. (see )

China now has two hydrail trams in production. One is built by CRRC (China Railway Rollingstock Company) Qingdao Sifang Co. Ltd.—the manufacturing arm of China South Railways, the country’s largest. The other is built by in partnership with China’s original railway engineering school, Southwest Jiaotong University, founded in 1896 as the Imperial Chinese Railway College.

Kenichi Ogawa of Japan’s Railway Technology Research Institute will update the Conference on their hydrail railauto project—first described by Dr. Keiichiro Kondo at the First International Hydrail Conference in Charlotte NC, 2005. RTRI has been developing hydrail train technology since 2001 to reduce fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions—and also to position Japan for a future without overhead wire railway power. With enthusiastic support from Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, Japan is embracing the hydrogen economy concept, especially in the context of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Dr. Stuart Hillmansen—Senior Lecturer in Electrical Energy Systems and Head of the Traction Research Group at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education—will tell the Conference how Birmingham became sufficiently convinced of the future of hydrogen railway traction to create the world’s first hydrail-specific doctoral program.

Dr. Andreas Hoffrichter—in 2013 the first candidate to be granted Birmingham’s new hydrail Ph.D.—will tell how he came to pursue a doctorate in hydrogen railway traction and how he and the University of Birmingham made their innovative contribution to help enable the railway industry to operate using clean, renewable energy.

Mark Kammerer, Business Development Manager for Hydrogenics, Inc., will tell how his company—in partnership with Alstom Transport of Paris, France—is deploying Europe’s first fleet of forty regional hydrail trains in the German States of Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse by year-end 2020.

Dr. Holger Busche, technical advisor to Detlef Matthiessen MdL—Speaker for Energy Policy and Technology Innovation in the Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) Parliament—will discuss plans for powering the entire State’s rail network by wind and other zero-autobon sources by 2025. Per the plan, the 65% of Schleswig-Holstein’s rail corridors now using diesel locomotives will be electrified wirelessly using hydrail trains fueled by hydrogen from excess off-peak wind turbine energy.

Raphael Isaac, a Ph.D. student at UC Davis, will present the latest on his cross-fuels comparison research, examing fuel technologies and their economic and environmental implications for intercity/commuter trains and freight trains. His presentation will include background information on rail simulations performed in collaboration with the University of Warwick and Michigan State, comparing hydrogen, diesel, and related hybrid powertrains for rail applications.

Mme. Yane Laperche-Riteau, Business Development Director for Ballard Power Systems, Inc. of Canada, will tell how Ballard chose to enter the hydrail fuel cell rail traction market around the turn of the century when most fuel cell companies were focused on autos and forklifts. Now Ballard has hydrail projects from the USA to China.

Peter Eggleton of Telligent Group Transportation Consultants—Quebec, Canada—will describe a project retrofitting an industrial diesel switch engine for battery and hydrogen operations using Hydrogenics, Inc. fuel cells to help meet Canada’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

Stan Thompson, one of the Mooresville NC originators of the International Hydrail Conference series, will tell how the Mooresville Hydrail Initiative’s effort to effect the innovation of a climate-friendly infrastructure technology years before its time came to be—and where he sees hydrail movement headed next.

A video update is expected about the new TIG/m Modern Street Railways hydrail streetauto system now operating in Dubai.

More presentations will be added and will appear on the website, . Conference registrations are being accepted there online.


About Stan Thompson

For 33 years I worked as an engineer, planner and futurist for what is now AT&T in Charlotte and Atlanta. Though I have no engineering degree, I'm a Life Member of the IEEE. Other memberships are the World Affairs Council, the local chapter of the National Association of Business Economics and the American Institute of Archaeology. (I dig international business, so to speak.)

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