East Japan Railway Company (JR East), Hitachi and Toyota Motor Corporation have entered into an agreement to collaborate on development of test railway vehicles equipped with hybrid systems that use hydrogen powered fuel cells and storage batteries as their source of electricity.
As efforts are made throughout the world to create sustainable societies, the same is also true for the railway sector, a means of mass transport, where there is high anticipation for next-generation rolling stock that operates using clean energy, such as hydrogen. Hydrogen ensures minimal environmental impact as it does not emit any carbon dioxide when used as an energy source and it can be produced from various raw materials using renewable energy.
The development of innovative rolling stock powered by hydrogen will therefore contribute to the development of a low-carbon society as it helps to curb global warming and diversify energy sources.
Hitachi’s railway hybrid drive system technologies developed with JR East, and Toyota’s technologies acquired through development of the Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle and the SORA fuel cell bus, the three companies will adapt the fuel cells used in automobiles for railway applications.
Together, they will create hybrid (fuel cell) test vehicles with the aim of achieving the high-power output control necessary to drive railway vehicles, which are much larger than automobiles.
The hydrogen used to fill the hydrogen tank is supplied to the fuel cell device and undergoes a chemical reaction with oxygen in the air to generate electricity. The main circuit storage battery is charged by electric power from the fuel cell device and by capturing and converting energy to electric power using regenerative braking. The hybrid drive system supplies the electric power to the traction motors from both the fuel cell device and the main circuit storage battery, controlling the movement of the wheels.
Toyota will develop the fuel cell device and Hitachi will develop the hybrid drive system.
This nickname was adopted to evoke an image of an advanced hybrid railway vehicle equipped with fuel cells and the main circuit storage battery that will generate innovation. HY represents hydrogen and “HYB” means hybrid.
Incorporating a blue splash pattern to represent the moistening of the earth and symbolise water generated from the chemical reaction in the fuel cells as a motif, the railway vehicle design conveys both a sense of speed and a futuristic image.