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Transatlantic Connections: Hydrogen Rail Innovations

May 27, 2015 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

For 100 years, diesel engines have fueled trains. Now, hydrogen rail technology has the potential to transform one of the most essential modes of transportation. Learn more about hydrail technology, its commercial and industrial applications, and how a unique blend of transatlantic public and private partnership is making North Carolina a hub for hydrail innovation and entrepreneurship. Free and open to the public.
Wednesday, May 27th @ 3PM, FedEx Global Education Center 4th Floor | UNC Center for European Studies, an EU Center of Excellence | Co-sponsored by UNC Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

CHAPEL HILL On Wednesday, May 27, Stan Thompson—one of the originators of the annual International Hydrail Conferences—will speak at Chapel Hill on ten years of collaboration between Europe and North Carolina to expedite the advent of hydrail—hydrogen fuel cell battery hybrid railway traction. This talk is sponsored by UNC’s Center for European Studies. The public is invited.

Hydrail is a US invention whose creation was funded by Congress in the 2000s via the Departments of Defense and Energy. Per Thompson, by 2030 hydrail railway traction—which is just beginning to appear in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean—will be the prevalent propulsion technology for new streetcar and tram systems, commuter rail lines, underground mining locomotives and freight switch engines.

The first hydrail locomotive, a joint project of the USA and Canada, was designed for mining. Later, BNSF Railways, with the US Army and others, converted a diesel switch engine to hydrogen fuel cell operation. “HH 1205” is still the largest hydrogen fuel cell device ever to move on land.

In 2005, the Mooresville South Iredell Chamber of Commerce was seeking to innovate hydrail commuter rail service between Mooresville and Charlotte. With organizing help from Appalachian State, they convened the First International Hydrail Conference, “1IHC.”.

Denmark sent a wind-hydrail presentation to 1IHC and offered to host 2IHC in Jutland in 2006. Denmark’s 2IHC attracted participation by France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and the UK.

At 2IHC, Alstom Transport, an international firm headquartered in Paris, presented the first European design for a hydrail passenger train. Today, Alstom is building Europe’s first fleet of forty hydrail regional trainsets for deployment in four German states, beginning in 2018 and completing in 2020.

Pisa, Italy (2012) and U. Birmingham, UK (2013) have granted the first two hydrail-related Ph.D.’s. Thompson introduced U. Birmingham (the 2010 IHC hosts) to energy interests at UNC-Charlotte: EPIC, the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center. An advanced railway engineering collaboration has resulted.

Thompson, a retired AT&T planner and futurist, has spoken on hydrail in Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK.  Denmark, Germany, Spain, Turkey and the UK have partnered with Mooresville and Appalachian State to host International Hydrail Conferences.

The talk will be held on the 4th Floor of the FedEx Global Education Center, on UNC-Chapel Hill Campus, at 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015. For more information, please visit


May 27, 2015
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Center for European Studies | A Jean Monnet Center of Excellence


FedEx Global Center #4003
301 Pittsboro St
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
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