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With first hydrogen-powered trains, Germany rolls into ‘next market’ for fuel cell tech

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Jeff Tyson

The world’s first hydrogen-powered trains, developed by the French company Alstom, began service in northern Germany on Monday — signaling an effort to challenge polluting diesel trains.

Paul Mutolo

Director of External Partnerships, Energy Materials Center

Paul Mutolo, a chemist and director of External Partnerships for the Energy Materials Center at Cornell University, has worked in the energy sector for over 16 years. He says the next market for hydrogen fuel cell products lies in “heavy duty transportation” such as trains, and that Germany is leading the way.

Mutolo says:

“Germany, a global leader in development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, provides another good example for the United States to follow. Heavy duty transportation is the next market for hydrogen fuel cell products. Products will more quickly thrive in this sector because their advantages over battery-based vehicles are amplified at this scale.

“Hydrogen provides a power train that is much less massive, a vehicle with greater range, and much faster refueling time than battery electric options. Similar developments in this sector are fuel cell-powered tractor-trailers, transit buses and ferry boats.

“Infrastructure remains the common hurdle to introducing hydrogen vehicles to the market.  The U.S. focus on port redevelopment is a key opportunity.”

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