How a hydrogen drive works – the innovative components of Mireo Plus H

With Mireo Plus H, innovative, next-generation hydrogen trains are already being developed. And so are the components of a new drive system that makes this train as powerful as conventional electric multiple-unit trains. To find out what’s new and how the components in the Mireo Plus H drive system work together, read this brief explanation of how a hydrogen drive works. 

How does a hydrogen drive work?

During cold combustion, hydrogen and oxygen in the fuel cell react to form water. This process generates heat and, more importantly, electrical energy. This energy is transferred to the traction battery, which in turn drives motors that transfer the energy to the wheels. In the case of the Mireo Plus H hydrogen train, the wheels are driven by converter-fed AC induction motors. A hydrogen train also draws energy for its on-board systems from the fuel cell. The ingenious interaction between the hydrogen and battery systems ensures the greatest possible range.

Advantages of hydrogen drives

Hydrogen is an efficient, environmentally friendly alternative to finite fossil fuels. Hydrogen drives therefore have several advantages: 

  • High efficiency: Hydrogen drives have high efficiency and achieve performance that rivals conventional drives.
  • Emission-free operation: No greenhouse gases are released during the usage of hydrogen drives.
  • Fast refueling: Hydrogen vehicles can be refueled quickly and are ready for use again in just a few minutes.
  • Reduced noise pollution: Hydrogen drives are significantly quieter than conventional combustion engines.
  • Long range: Unlike other environmentally friendly drives, hydrogen is also suitable for use over longer distances.
  • Low life cycle costs: Fuel cells are robust and have a long service life. This reduces maintenance and life cycle costs.

Efficient interaction of all components


Mireo Plus H uses innovative new developments that work together to provide extraordinary performance capability, starting with the fuel cell and its high power density. For Mireo Plus H’s innovative fuel cell system, Siemens Mobility collaborates with its experienced partner Ballard Power. The hydrogen tank has also been optimized. It’s absorption capacity has been increased by 10 percent, thus  bolstering its long range credentials. The hybrid control software optimizes operation through predictive energy management. The family of powerful batteries boasts of a long life. Together, the new components make Mireo Plus H suitable for deployments up to 1,000 km.

Discover the components and their benefits using our interactive graphic.

Drive system

· The wheels are driven by converter-fed induction generators.

· Power is supplied via a power converter and comes from a fuel cell and/or high-performance traction battery.

Next-generation fuel cell

· The modern fuel cell has twice the power density of conventional fuel cell systems.

· Its long life makes the system essentially future-proof. 

Hydrogen tank

· The tank can be filled in 15 minutes (innovative system for fast refueling).

· Communication between the train and filling station is managed via a smart interface. 

SiC technology

· The power converter and auxiliary converter are equipped with highly efficient SiC technology, among other things.

· This increases efficiency, saves energy, and reduces noise emissions. 

High-performance traction battery

· The traction battery relies on cutting-edge lithium-ion technology, is very safe, and has an extremely long life.

· Excess energy from braking operations is buffered in the battery. 

Powerful overall system – from the drive to the train design

The principle behind the hydrogen drive was optimized for Mireo Plus H down to the smallest detail. With its individual components working together efficiently, Mireo Plus H is every bit as powerful as conventional electric multiple-unit trains. But the drive system isn’t the only thing that affects range and performance. The vehicle itself, from the components of its car shell to its aerodynamic design, also helps deliver optimized performance.

Are trains with hydrogen the future?

Hydrogen plays a crucial role in achieving the goal of a sustainable mobility. Particularly on longer secondary routes, where electrification of the route network is not possible or too costly in the foreseeable future, and the range of battery-powered vehicles is insufficient, hydrogen trains can replace diesel vehicles. That is why we are continuing to drive forward the development and testing of hydrogen fuel cell trains and refueling stations together with Deutsche Bahn.