Is China Beating Us Yet Again? This Could Be the Future of Public Transportation

Mar 25, 2015 at 3:35 pm |

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The Sifang Company, a subsidiary of the China South Rail Corporation, has just unveiled the world’s first hydrogen-powered tram, a major step in green transportation.

Under construction for the past two years, the streetcar can travel up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a full tank, at speeds of 70 km/h (43 mph) with up to 380 passengers. It is expected to start operating soon.

This green train comes in response to China’s major pollution problem. According to, the tram’s only emission is water because its fuel cells’ controlled temperatures prevent any nitrogen oxides – a result of hydrogen combustion in atmospheric air. The Chinese are marketing this fact as the greatest success within their larger accomplishment.

And yet, when it comes to hydrogen combustion, nitrogen oxides are not the greatest concern. Since pure hydrogen gas is so rare-occurring in nature, it must be industrially produced. This production is not easy, and if the Chinese are using steam-methane reforming to harvest the hydrogen yield necessary to keep these trams operational, then they’re most likely producing a notable amount of greenhouse gases as well. Then again, these harmful emissions are still lower than in gas combustion.

Time will tell if this new, “eco-friendly” method of transportation takes off. Maybe it will only be a matter of time before we start seeing trams like this stateside.

China has mastered the first hydrogen-powered tram, making them the world leaders in this new green form of transportation.