Gensler Design along with 4240 Architecture has just won a silver Spark Award for design excellence in transforming a 3-mile section of one of Chicago’s abandoned railway lines (pictured left) into a solar and Hydrogenerator powered farm and trail way.
The idea is to transform the old Bloomingdale railroad viaduct that runs through the heart of the city into a power generating park that supplies schools and hydrogen cars with energy and fuel. The previously elevated train has been abandoned since the 1980’s.
The previously mentioned design companies along with the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail see the project as a walking trail, a way to provide food for local residents, a method to supply electricity to local schools and a way to supply fuel for hydrogen cars.
Atop the viaduct are translucent solar panels which feed electricity below ground at various intervals to buried tanks of water, electrolyzers and fuel cells. The water that is electrolyzed into hydrogen and oxygen is then run through a fuel cell to supply power for local schools.
The excess hydrogen is used in refueling stations along the route to top off H2 to fuel cell vehicles. At ground level is both a walking trail and farmland in which crops can be grown to feed local residents.
According to Gensler design director Brian Vitale, “A highly visible beacon day or night, the Hydrogenerator stands as a symbol for a new paradigm that involves examining abandoned and underused infrastructure for new energy bearing technologies. The more local, the more clean the energy, the more stable and healthy the society.”
In the past, I’ve talked about both Hyrail and Hydrail as two concepts for putting hydrogen-powered trains within the public transportation system. The Hydrogenerator system (pictured above right) does not plan to do this, however, but rather reuse abandoned train infrastructure with greener alternatives. With now President Obama, a famous Chicagoan, at the helm we might just see this Hydrogenerator project get funding.