Liquid Hydrogen Transport by Rail

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Cylindrical cryogenic tanks such as those used for trucking, can be adopted for railway transport and are used for distributing a small amount of the hydrogen used today in the industrial markets. They can typically carry up to 9100 kg of hydrogen, with boil-off rates estimated at 0.2% per day.

This method of distribution is typically used for long distances of up to 1000 miles and therefore is used more in North America than in Europe, where distribution distances tend to be shorter.

State of the Art

The production and storage of liquid can be compared to that discussed for liquid road distribution in Section 9.3. This method of distribution is not typically used in Europe.

Metric Table

Technology Accessibility Compatibility with existing technologies Rating 0-4 2[1]
Number of Transportation providers Data no. 4?[2]
Joint transportation with other fuels ? Rating 0-4 ?[3]
Global Environmental Impact GHG emissions associated with fuel transport Data gCO2 eq/kg fuel  
CO2 emissions associated with fuel transport Data gCO2/kg fuel  
Local Environmental Impact Air quality impact (consider NOx, PM, CO, NMHC) Rating 0-4  
Noise or perception of noise from transport systems (SPL, loudness,...) Data / Rating dB(A), sone  
Land use / damage to nature (e.g. pipelines) Rating 0-4  
Efficiency Transport leakage Data % (kg) loss / km Boil off rate 0.2-0.6% per day[4]
Energy efficiency (e.g. truck energy consumption + leakage) Data %  
Capacity & Availability Measured capacity of distribution infrastructure Data kg fuel / year  
Lifetime of technology Data years  
(click here for more datails)
Capital investment for fuel transport facilitites Data €/capacity N/A
Operational / maintenance costs Data €/year N/A
Decommissioning Cost Data €/capacity N/A
Transportation Costs Data €/kg/km N/A
Safety No. of transport interruptions Data no. / year  
Severity of failure Rating 0-4  


  • Air Products
  • Castello, Tzimas, Moretto and Peteves
    Techno-economic Hydrogen Transmission and Distribution Systems in Europe in the Medium and Long Term
    Report EUR 21586EN, March 2005
  • National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap, Hydrogen Posture Plan
    US DOE
  • Costs of Storing and Transporting Hydrogen
    Amos, National Energy Research Lab


  1. Rail transport would only be compatible for applications near to existing rail distribution networks. This is not a typical distribution method for the current European industrial market
  2. ‘Four’ refers to the major global industrial gas companies; Air Liquide, Linde Group (inc. BOC), Air Products and Praxair. I am not sure to what extent these companies use this method of distribution
  3. I’m not sure what this means
  4. Amos, National Energy Research Lab, Costs of Storing and Transporting Hydrogen
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