In the context of a feasibility study on the application of fuel cells in railways, DB AG carried out a project studying the environmental and economic comparison of different fuel chains.
The study revealed that the environmental performance of fuel cells strongly depends on the involved fuel process chain. This dependence was especially pronounced for the efficiency of the different chains. The total efficiency is 6,1% in the worst case (hydrogen produced by electrolysis using power from the German public grid) and 31,7% in the best case (hydrogen by natural gas reforming). As a consequence, even in the best case the efficiency is 0,6% lower than for diesel fuel propelling a diesel-electric vehicle.