The Anonymous Widower

Poland Investigates Use Of Hydrogen Fuel For Rail Freight

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the International Railway Journal.

This first paragraph, outlines the project.

Polish coal mining company JSW and national rail freight operator PKP Cargo have agreed to cooperate to research, analyse and possibly produce new types of hydrogen-powered freight wagons and shunting locomotives.

Note that one of the collaborating companies is a coal company.

Statements later in the article indicate that JSW can create commercial quantities of hydrogen, as a by-product of making coke.

Some of us of a certain age, still remember coal gas, which was replaced by natural gas from the North Sea in the 1970s.

It looks like Poland are still using the same process to obtain coke and probably other products like coal tar, sulphur and ammonia.

According to Wikipedia, UK coal gas had the following composition.

  • Hydrogen 50%
  • Methane 35%
  • Carbon monoxide 10%
  • Ethylene 5%

It was one of the suicide methods of choice for the unhappily married. I don’t miss the foul stuff, with its poisonous carbon monoxide.

But as you can see, it does have a high percentage of hydrogen!


I’m not a fan of using coal gas, but these two Polish companies are another group investigating the use of hydrogen as a method of powering trains and other rail vehicles.


July 10, 2018 - Posted by | Transport | , ,


  1. As a teenager I tried filling a balloon with coal gas. I used a bicycle pump fed from the gas main and then use the full pump to pump the gas into the balloon. After a few cycles the balloon was inflated, and sure enough, there was enough hydrogen for the balloon to float up to the ceiling and stay there. After a few hours it came down and the rubber was damaged (crinkled) by some of the other constituents of the coal gas.
    We lived dangerously in those days.

    Comment by John | July 10, 2018 | Reply

  2. We certainly did! We used to experiment with weedkiller and icing sugar explosive!

    In the early 1970s, I met an American, who blown his hand off, experimenting with home-made dynamite.

    I asked my son (aged 47) if he’d ever experimented and he never has.

    Comment by AnonW | July 11, 2018 | Reply

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