3D model of hydrogen molecules | © iStock.com/smirkdingo

We are testing hydrogen as the drive system of the future

How can we make transport even greener in the future? We have established partnerships to design and develop eco-friendly transport solutions for tomorrow. One particularly climate-friendly technology is the use of green hydrogen in propulsion technology.

The filling station has been supplying the Mireo Plus H since mid-2022 during the testing and approval phase at the Siemens Mobility test center.

Green tank infrastructure

Deutsche Bahn is currently testing solutions for supplying trains with hydrogen. DB Energie has developing  a new supplying solution including a mobile hydrogen filling station for this purpose. Green hydrogen will be produced directly on site, using power from renewable sources, goes into a mobile storage tank before being processed and cooled in an adjacent tank trailer. Lower energy consumption and shorter refueling times will be achieved through communication between the train and the refueling station and a pressure regulated refueling control system. The innovative DB Energie tank station will refuel a hydrogen train in the same time as it would take to refuel a diesel train. In the future, this will enable smooth refueling even in closely timed regional and local transport.

With its innovative hydrogen infrastructure, DB Energie GmbH has, for example, won a tender procedure for Bayerische Regiobahn (BRB) and is supplying the first hydrogen-powered train for Bavaria with green hydrogen. We have set up a hydrogen filling station and a mobile storage trailer in Augsburg for this purpose. The two-car hydrogen-powered train has been in passenger service since the beginning of 2024.

Discover the mobile hydrogen filling station here in 3D.

The innovation hub of DB Energie in Tübingen

Innovation hub supplies renewable power directly to the overhead line

In addition to the production of green hydrogen, we are also testing other technologies for the green energy company of the future at our Innovation Hub in Tübingen.  The focus here is on a new type of technical interface to the overhead line: the so-called sector coupler connects the hydrogen production plant with the overhead line and a battery storage system and makes it possible to feed renewable energy directly into the traction power network.  We want to use this to gain insights into how we can react flexibly to so-called dark doldrums in the future. Dark doldrums are days on which the sun hardly shines, the wind does not blow and, as a result, too little renewable power can be produced.  

H2goesRail - complete hydrogen system on the rails

Under the name "H2goesRail" we are testing a completely new hydrogen system for rail transport in partnership with Siemens Mobility. Alongside DB Energie’s new hydrogen filling station concept, a special hydrogen train has also been developed. Siemens Mobility is building the new Mireo Plus H for this purpose. It has a hydrogen drive system consisting of a fuel cell and a battery.

The aim of the project is to replace diesel multiple units in regional service. This new propulsion technology and the green hydrogen will reduce local carbon emissions to zero. Trial operation between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim is planned to start in the year of 2024.

More about the project H2goesRail

Together with Siemens Mobility, Deutsche Bahn is working on a completely new hydrogen system for rail transport.

Climate-friendly hydrogen fleet on rail

In collaboration with the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsbund (RMV), our DB subsidiary "start" has been operating the first trains of a new hydrogen fleet in regional rail transport in Hesse since December 2022 .

The Alstom Coradia iLint trains are powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. It generates electrical energy for the drive. The trains score double points in terms of environmental protection. They operate with zero local emissions because they only release water vapor and heat into the environment. In addition, they run almost silently and thus protect residents along the routes from railroad noise.

The new hydrogen trains are running on four lines in the Taunus subnetwork in the Rhine-Main region, some of which have not yet been electrified. Our DB Regio maintenance depot in Frankfurt-Griesheim will be responsible for maintaining the vehicles.

In Bavaria, DB Energie GmbH is supplying the first hydrogen-powered train of the Bavarian Regional Railway with green hydrogen. This will go into passenger service in 2024.

Hydrogen technology at DB Regio 

We are also advancing climate friendly transport on the roads, for example in North Friesland. There, the DB subsidiary Autokraft is operating two buses that run on hydrogen fuel cells in a pilot project in the regions of Niebüll and Husum. The buses come from the Portuguese manufacturer CaetanoBus and should have a range of up to 400 kilometers. The green hydrogen for this pilot is produced from surplus wind power. The buses can refuel at two publicly accessible hydrogen filling stations. This project has been given the name "eFarm".

Climate-neutral and with hydrogen technology, this bus takes its passengers to their destination.

In the district of Friesland in northern Germany, five new hydrogen buses are taking passengers to their destinations in a climate-friendly way. Our DB subsidiary Weser-Ems-Bus is taking care of the purchase, operation and maintenance of the vehicles. The buses will be refueled at a new hydrogen filling station being built in Schortens. Both the buses and the refueling station belong to the HyFri project, which is setting the signals for an expansion of the local hydrogen economy in the region. The project name HyFri combines the words hydrogen and Friesland.

DB concludes master agreement for the supply of new hydrogen buses.

In addition, we have signed a framework agreement with the manufacturer Caetanobus for the supply of around 60 hydrogen buses. The vehicles are expected to be delivered successively beginning in early 2024 and will then be active on the roads of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. As well as their climate-friendly drive system, the buses have another advantage: they can refuel faster than the batteries of a purely electric bus can be charged and have an impressive range of up to 550 kilometers.

DB Schenker is the first logistics provider in Germany to operate a 40-ton fuel cell vehicle.

First hydrogen truck at DB Schenker

In 2022 DB Schenker signed a contract with the leasing start-up hylane for the acquisition of the first hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles. The first of the new 40-ton trucks from the manufacturer Hyzon has been in daily service between Cologne and Eupen (Belgium) since 2023. The range of the new vehicle is around 400 kilometers, with the maximum payload being higher than for pure e-trucks. Another major advantage of hydrogen technology is the rapid refueling process of about 15 minutes.