Feb. 23, 2012. BOONE — In partnership with Appalachian State University’s Energy Center, the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education will host the 7th International Hydrail Conference July 3-4 in Birmingham, U.K. The event is dedicated to facilitating the transition to hydrogen-powered railways. The increasing price of diesel fuel, the need to reduce carbon emissions, and the high cost for railway electrification require alternatives to diesel and electric trains. The long-term solution to these challenges is the development of hydrogen-based propulsion system for railways.
The Birmingham, U.K., conference will focus on the current status of projects around the world; technology innovations; and environmental, climate, and economic drivers of the transition to a hydrogen-powered railway. More information about hydrail technology and the upcoming conference is available at www.hydrail.org.
The International Hydrail Conference is a global effort to expedite development and deployment of the next generation of hydrogen-fueled train propulsion technology.
“Hydrail” is the generic term of art coined in 2004 for reference to all hydrogen-based rail propulsion technology. Hydrail technology eliminates transportation emissions created by burning fossil fuels offering significantly reducing climate change risks associated with greenhouse gas emissions. This hydrogen transportation technology also allows the benefits of electrified trains to be realized without the high infrastructure costs or visual impacts commonly associated with this modern form of mass transit.
Two centuries after the locomotive was introduced, the first hydrogen-powered locomotive was built for use at an underground mine in Canada in 2002. Since then, the first full-size hydrogen-powered shunting locomotive, also called a switch engine, has been tested by one of the largest American railroads, BNSF Railway Co., in Los Angeles. Hydrail passenger transportation application have been developed and operated in Taiwan, Japan and Spain. Planning, development and other studies related to hydrail have also been undertaken in China, Denmark, Europe and Asia.
Conference organizers intend for this year’s event to feature the brightest star on the passenger hydrail horizon – Ferrocarriles de Vía Estrecha, or FEVE. This state-owned Spanish railway company named after the narrow-gauge tracks on which it operates, demonstrated a hydrail tram or “hydrolley” in the Principality of Asturias last year and has announced that it will place Europe’s first hydrail train in revenue service this year.
The International Hydrail Conferences series is the world’s only conference focused on the use of hydrogen fuel in railway applications.
“We have taken perhaps the most traditional of mechanical transportation technologies and facilitated a truly global effort to make railways the most advanced of transportation technologies,” said Jason Hoyle, a research analyst with Appalachian’s Energy Center and one of the co-founders of the International Hydrail Conference.
“Since our first event was held in Charlotte, N.C. in 2005, the conference has been held in Europe and Asia, and most recently was co-hosted by the International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technology, a United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, in Istanbul, Turkey,” he said.
Researchers, businesses, regulators and train enthusiasts typically come from around the globe to attend and present at the conference, including representatives from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.