Transportation is being tested on the Warwickshire main line.

Public transport accounts for about a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, the government has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050. And one of the proposed actions to achieve this goal comes from the University of Birmingham, which is developing a hydrogen-powered train. Germany pioneered this type of transport when it launched the Coradia iLint, the world’s first hydrogen-powered train.

The use of hydrogen is essential to help decarbonize the railways. Hydrogen powered trains do not emit gases that are harmful to the environment; on the contrary, this transport uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, water and heat.

The University of Birmingham project received £ 750,000 support from the UK Department of Transport to move the project forward – which is being carried out in partnership with the company Porterbrook.

HydroFLEX

The train used in the tests is called HydroFLEX and was equipped with hydrogen fuel cells, which are activated on non-electrified routes. To convert the electric vehicle into hydrogen, hydrogen and battery tanks were installed, capable of providing independent traction force to operate with zero carbon emissions. These trains are expected to start receiving passengers in 2023.

The Department of Transportation has commissioned a project – to be carried out by the Mott MacDonald group – to understand the feasibility of using hydrogen in transport. Scheduled for publication in January, the project could pave the way for the adoption of hydrogen as the main fuel to supply buses, heavy vehicles, rail, sea and air transport across the UK.

The goal is for the region to become a global leader in research for the use of hydrogen as a fuel, as well as a development center for hydrogen transport in general.

Hydrogen as a fuel

Vehicles powered by hydrogen cells can be refueled as quickly as those using gasoline or ethanol. In addition, hydrogen allows greater autonomy on longer trips, when compared to traditional fuels.

The problem is that hydrogen filling stations are still very expensive. It is estimated that a post could cost around US $ 2 million, so companies have been reluctant to build them. However, for these gas stations to become viable, it will be necessary to have more hydrogen-powered vehicles circulating on the streets and roads.

Satellite data showed a 38% increase in green in the region. A worrying fact, according to scientists

The Arctic, located at the northern end of the planet, is a predominantly icy region. And, contrary to what many imagine, it is not a lifeless place. Unlike Antarctica, which has extremely dry regions, hostile to life forms, the Arctic is full of grasses and shrubs, which are adapted to survive harsh winters. Beneath the thick layer of snow, the green mainly survives underground, like roots. When thawing occurs, plants have about a month to do everything they need to survive and reproduce: loosen the seeds, absorb nutrients and sunlight.

However, as the arctic summers become warmer, the landscape also changes. Scientists have been following this transformation through satellite images,
obtained in the last 30 years, and found that the region has become greener as it gets warmer, as it raises soil temperatures and stimulates plant growth.

The study, published in Nature Communications, is the first to measure changes in vegetation across the Arctic tundra, from Alaska, Canada to Siberia, using satellite data from Landsat, a joint mission between NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Other studies have used satellite data to look at smaller regions, since Landsat data can be used to determine the amount of vegetation actively growing in the soil. Thus, it was observed that greening can represent plants growing more, becoming denser.

Consequences

When tundra vegetation changes, it impacts not only the wildlife that depends on certain vegetation, but also the people who live in the region and depend on local ecosystems for food. Although active plants absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, rising temperatures can also help to melt pergelisole (a specific type of Arctic soil), releasing greenhouse gases.

According to Trevor Keenan, a teaching scientist at the University of California, this “greening” of the Arctic represents a major break in the delicate balance of cold ecosystems. “The temperatures will warm up enough so that new species of trees can move and compete with the vegetation that once dominated the landscape. This change in vegetation would also affect insects and animals that depend on native vegetation for food”.

The research is part of NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), which aims to better understand how ecosystems are responding to these warming environments and their social implications.