International Hydrail Conference 2012 - Speaker Information and Presentation Previews


(partial list; speakers and agenda subject to change)

Keynote Speakers

Professor Kevin Kendall FRS — Professor Kevin Kendall FRS has been researching hydrogen and fuel cells over the past 30 years. He was responsible for the first hydrogen filling station in England, to fuel hydrogen vehicles running on the University of Birmingham campus since March 2008. He is Professor of Formulation Engineering at the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemical Engineering. He began his career in 1969 at British Rail’s Derby Research Laboratories, working in sodium-sulfur battery technology.

He will present about the range, charging/fueling and energy-density advantages of hydrogen fuel cells configured with battery hybrid technology over battery-only configurations of electric-drive locomotives.

Dr. Jeff Allan — Jeff Allan is head of Delivery, Command Control and Signaling, and Energy at the British Railway Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), an independent not-for-profit company owned and funded by major railway industry stakeholders. He has had a career in railway engineering since 1975, working in the fields of Rolling Stock, Electrification, Signalling, Train Control and Communications. At RSSB, he presently manages a team of Engineers and Project Managers who develop interface standards and carry out research in the topics of Control Command and Signalling and Energy for the GB railway industry. His interest in hydrogen dates back to 2004.

He will present a presentation titled: Progress in Hydrogen Rail Traction. This presentation will briefly explain the progress that has been made in the application of hydrogen to railway traction, since his last presentation at the 2006 Hydrail Conference in Denmark. The presentation will continue by exploring perceived issues with hydrogen dismissing several, and then moving on to the obstacles to widespread adoption and potential solutions.

Professor Roderick Smith, ScD, FREng. Professor Smith is the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department for Transport. He has also held the Royal Academy of Engineering Network Rail Research Professor of Railway Engineering at Imperial College and is Chair of the Future Railway Research Centre. He is an Honorary Visiting Professor at Central Queensland University, Australia and of the Academy of Railway Science of China and York, City and Oxford Universities in the UK. He was the 126th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Railways have changed significantly throughout their existence, often through the introduction of radical new technologies. An example is the move from cast iron rails to steel rails in 1860's, a move which faced considerable opposition at the time. The evolution of railway traction has also undergone significant change, starting with carriages hauled by man and later by animals, then moving on to steam power, and now the use of electric motors either supplied from line-side infrastructure or on-board generators powered by diesel engines. This talk will review these major changes, draw lessons for the future of autonomous traction and discuss the question: What is the future for hydrogen as a railway fuel?

Professor Robert Steinberger-Wilckensis a physicist with a degree from the University of Oldenburg, Germany. He was a Founding Member of the energy and utilities engineering company, PLANET GbR. His projects have included energy efficient building technology; water saving; solar and wind energy; biomass; and fuel cell and hydrogen applications, both mobile and stationary. He was Project Manager—Fuel Cells at Forschungszentrum Jülich from 2002 to Jan. 2012 and was responsible for the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) development at the research centre. He developed and coordinated the EU-Project “Real-SOFC” under the 6th Framework Programme and more recently the projects TrainHy, FC-EuroGrid, and MMLCR=SOFC. He leads the Centre for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research and the respective Doctoral Training Centre in Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham.

He will present the first results obtained on system analysis of an advanced hydrogen storage system and fuel cell system for rail and marine applications.


Dr. Holger Busche — Holger Busche is head of Schienenflotte GmbH, a company founded to initiate innovative rail projects, especially hydrail. Although a geophysicist by training his work incorporates many disciplines including technology, economics, and politics. He is an active advocate for hydrail technology and seeks to engage non-railway-focused organizations in hydrail promotion.

He will present on the first attempts (1998) to establish hydrogen electric trains in Northern Germany—efforts which preceded the more publicized activities in North America and Asia. His presentation emphasizes the economic, political and social implications of hydrail technology, and develops persuasive answers to the question, “Hydrail: Why Northern Germany?”

Dr. Dmitry Grigorovich (presented by Stan Thompson)— Dr. Grigorovich is Head Executor at the All-Russian Institute of Railway Transportation in the Russian Federation, where he leads the design team developing a hydrogen fuel cell based Power Car system which—by eliminating diesel emissions—enables track crews to work in tunnels safely for up to eight days without high volumes of forced air ventilation. This solves a major problem in the severe cold of Russian winters.

Development of Dr. Grigorovich’s Power Car project has been followed at the 5th International Hydrail Conference in Charlotte and the 6th IHC in Istanbul, in 2010. A retrospective overview and project progress over the period will be covered by presenter Stan Thompson, speaking on behalf of Dr. Grigorovich.

Professor Rex Harris — Rex Harris is Honorary Professor of Materials Science in the School of Metallurgy and Materials Science at the University of Birmingham. He has had a life-long interest in rare earth-based magnets and the interaction of hydrogen with these materials. In 2006—in partnership with colleagues Dr. Alex Bevan; Dr. David Book; and Professor Andreas Zuttel of EMPA, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology—he developed a practical demonstration of these combined interests: a hydrogen/battery canal boat driven by a permanent magnet electric motor using NdFeB magnets. Hydrogen is stored on board the vessel in metal hydride.

In this presentation, Prof. Harris, Dr. Bevan, Dr. Book and Prof. Zuttel will discuss their experience in operating this storage system in conjunction with a PEM fuel cell and how such a system might be adaptable to railway transportation.

Dr. Stuart Hillmansen — Stuart Hillmansen is a Senior Lecturer in Electrical Energy Systems in the School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Birmingham. He leads the Traction Systems Group and, with a team of five research fellows and six Ph.D. candidates, is engaged in a number of research projects funded by industry, government and the European Commission. He serves as a member of the Future Fuels Technology Group, a collaboration of industry experts who advise the Vehicle/Train Energy System Interface Committee and the rail industry at large, and has presented evidence on railways’ contribution to improving energy use and security to the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change.

His presentation will discuss the role of autonomous traction systems in future railways. Traction applications, from light rail to heavy freight, will be analyzed and the potential for introducing hydrogen as an energy vector will be discussed. The hybridization of traction systems is a key enabling technology for the integration of novel energy sources into railway traction. The role of energy storage within this system will be described.

Andreas Hoffrichter — Andreas Hoffrichter is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, where he is conducting research into hydrogen powered rail vehicles and their necessary hydrogen supply chain. Previously, he studied merchant baking in Germany and later graduated with first honors from Aston University, specializing in Transport Management. He has presented hydrail-related papers at several conferences, including the Sixth International Hydrail Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, sponsored by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO-ICHET).

His presentation will explain how hydrogen is promising as a transportation energy carrier for railways, including well-to-wheels efficiencies, prototype examples, and likely applications for hydrail technology.

Professor Andreas Hornung — Professor Hornung is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. He heads the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, a focus for pan-European activities on scientific and technological aspects of biomass production, conversion and utilization of products used for renewable power, heat, transport fuels, hydrogen and chemicals. He currently oversees development of an ERDF-funded £16.5m Centre of Excellence in bioenergy technologies and a focal point for supporting regional business with technology transfer and growth opportunities. This research facility will include a unique industrial-scale power generation plant supplying power and heat for use on the campus. In 2011 Prof. Hornung was appointed as a Green Leader in the West Midlands.

Professor Hornung will speak on the increased efficiency of bio-hydrogen production through a new pyrolysis/gasification process developed by EBRI researchers. He will describe how this ‘Pyroformer’ operates, the rigorous testing currently being undertaken, and the benefits to businesses, government and the public.

Jason W. Hoyle — Jason Hoyle is Research Analyst and faculty member at Appalachian State University’s Research Institute for the Environment, Energy, and Economics. He specializes in leveraging the development of sustainable resources as a source of economic development and growth, is an expert on energy- and climate change-related policy and market issues in the U.S., and regularly consults with local governments and non-profits across the state. He is also a co-founder of the International Hydrail Conference series and for eight years has authored the world’s hydrail information clearinghouse,

He will present methods of economic valuation for hydrail technology as they relate to the scope of decision-making priorities for public investment. The value of hydrail technology will be examined within the scope of decisions such as an equipment replacement option, a rail system innovation, and as an enabler of revolutionary technological change.

Stan Thompson — Stan Thompson leads the Hydrogen Economy Advancement Team at the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce in Mooresville, North Carolina, USA. In collaboration with fellow presenters Bill Thunberg and Jason Hoyle, he conceived and founded the International Hydrail Conference series in 2005. He coined the term “hydrail” in 2004 in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy and has made invited presentations on the topic of hydrail in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the USA.

He will present on the trends that make hydrail increasingly attractive and some of the non-technology externalities that have deterred its deployment.

Bill Thunberg — Bill Thunberg is currently the Executive Director of the Lake Norman Transportation Commission. During his tenure as Mayor of Mooresville, NC, USA he worked with Stan Thompson to establish the Mooresville Hydrail Initiative, a local initiative dedicated to establishing the United States’ first hydrogen-powered commuter rail system. He was instrumental in establishing the first International Hydrail Conference in 2005, and has continued to offer invaluable support to the conference series in the years since.

He will present on the purposes, origin, and history of the Mooresville Hydrail Initiative which spawned the International Hydrail Conference series. His presentation will highlight the reality of today’s interconnected world in which the free unrestricted flow of information empowers citizens everywhere with the capability of endeavoring to change the world for the better — and to do so with a reasonable probability of success.

Stephen Kent and Jon Tutcher — Stephen Kent is a Research Fellow and JonTutcher is a Ph.D. candidate at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education. Together, they head up the University of Birmingham team that is currently building a 10.25-inch gauge hydrogen-powered locomotive to be entered in this year’s IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) Railway Challenge competition.

Their presentation will describe the many challenges faced by the team, outline why an hydrogen-based design was chosen, and describe some of the key features of this ambitious design. The locomotive will be on display at the University, with demonstrations planned on a short test track.

Herbert Wancura – Herbert Wancura is the Principal of synergesis, an international consulting and engineering practice based in Graz, Austria. The core activities of synergesis are: assisting clients in the advancement of alternative energy and power technologies; in research-to-development; and in marketing and policy. He has worked with a variety of fuel cell technologies since 1998 and has been active in building and governing the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (FCH-JU). Previously, he has presented at the Hydrail Conferences in Spain and Turkey.

His presentation will focus on niche markets and steps towards the development of hydrogen rail commercialization. He will identify some of the most promising early market niches, presenting key technical and non-technical barriers and possible ways to overcome them.


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