Hydrogen by rail


Hydrogen by rail

Future bound: DB Cargo to transport hydrogen by rail

The hydrogen future is coming. Since there are no special pipelines for transporting hydrogen yet, DB Cargo is bridging this technology gap with an alternative solution and aims to transport the urgently needed fuel by freight train in the future.
According to government estimates, Germany will require around 100 hydrogen-powered terawatt hours per year by 2030. For comparison, recent annual electricity consumption in Germany comes in at just under 580 terawatt hours. "Hydrogen will have an important role to play in tomorrow's energy mix," says Dr Sigrid Nikutta, CEO of DB Cargo AG and Member of the Management Board for Freight Transport at the DB Group. "There are a number of new initiatives today for shipping green hydrogen to Germany by sea."

Green hydrogen needs green logistics

"What we've developed," Nikutta continues, "is a simple and efficient solution for transporting hydrogen from the ports to consumers in the hinterland, especially our inland industrial customers. But it’s actually bigger than that. Our solution, in effect, creates a secure and effective hydrogen energy supply chain for the whole German economy. The rail network in Germany is eco-friendly, and it has over 35,000 kilometres of tracks. DB Cargo alone serves more than 2,100 interfaces, customer sidings, container terminals and inland ports. Thanks to this innovative solution, our service portfolio can now offer what green hydrogen needs – green logistics – and offer it today."

Suitable for seagoing vessels and tank wagons

To ensure that hydrogen transport by sea is simple and cost-effective, this green fuel of the future is normally bound in liquids for import into Germany. But how do you get it to customers whose facilities are not located near a port? The rail solution developed jointly by DB Cargo and energy suppliers has the answer. The hydrogen is left bound in liquid so that standard tank wagons can be used to carry it by rail.

The future of energy: hydrogen on its way to the customer

When it reaches the place where it will be used as an energy source, the cargo is then split back into its components. The hydrogen is separated out and used in combustion.
Hydrogen logistics is an important topic at DB Cargo. Among other things, DB Cargo is a co-partner in the Reallabor Burghausen ChemDelta Bavaria – a non-profit company in the Bavarian chemical triangle where trailblazing hydrogen technology is tested under real industrial conditions. 

DB Cargo is also involved in the development of innovative hydrogen containers that can be used to transport pure, unbound hydrogen. Container solutions like these are useful for small-scale distribution of pure hydrogen to decentralised customers. In addition, DB Cargo is in charge of organizing the delivery of DB Regio's hydrogen trains, which are currently being operationally tested on different lines.

Get in touch with our expert.

Bjarne Regenbrecht

Project Manager Wasserstofflogistik DB Cargo BTT