The Anonymous Widower

Is This The Solution To A Charging Station For Battery Trains?

This page on the Opbrid web site has a main title of Automatic High Power Charging for Buses, Trucks, and Trains.

It also has a subtitle of Furrer+Frey Opbrid Charging Stations for Battery Trains.

Furrer + Frey are a Swiss railway engineering company, that design and build railway electrification systems.

The web page gives this introduction.

Since 2009, Furrer+Frey has developed a multi-modal ultra high power charging station for battery-powered vehicles that is already radically changing the way traction power is delivered to road and rail vehicles. In particular, the Furrer+Frey Railbaar system targets existing low traffic diesel traction routes as well as new light rail and tram projects. The technology applies to battery powered trams and trains (Railbaar), buses (Busbaar) and trucks (Trukbaar) with a design rooted in proven Swiss electric rail technology already successfully deployed by Furrer+Frey across Europe and the world.

The web page has an interesting image for a Swiss company.

Shown is a Class 379 train, at a station, which I’m pretty sure is Cambridge.

Liverpool Street to Cambridge is a fully-electrified route, so why would a charging station be needed on this service?

I can’t think of a reason.

So I suspect, it’s just that to illustrate the web page, they needed to use a train that had the capability of running under battery power, which the Class 379 did in the BEMU trial of 2015.

It could also be that Furrer + Frey are working with Bombardier and it’s a Bombardier library picture.

But then Furrer + Frey probably work with all the major train manufacturers.

And as Bombardier have just released a new battery train, that I wrote about in Bombardier Introduces Talent 3 Battery-Operated Train, it would be logical that the two companies are working together, as battery trains will surely need charging in stations to develop longer routes.

Note the blue box in the middle of the picture. It says.

Download White Paper On 25 Kv Train Charging

If you download the white paper, you will find a very comprehensive and detailed description of how battery trains could be charged in stations. This is the introductory paragraph.

Battery-powered trains are rapidly becoming the vehicle of choice for the replacement of diesel
trains on non-electrified rail lines. Often there is not enough traffic on these lines to justify the expense of erecting overhead line equipment (OLE) along the track. In many cases, the train runs under OLE for part of its route where the battery train can charge via its pantograph. However, sometimes additional charging is required. While it is possible to erect additional kilometers of OLE for charging, it is more cost effective to charge the train via pantograph while stopped at a station using a very short length of overhead conductor rail and a 25 kV power supply.

I will now try to explain the solution.

The white paper gives this physical description of the solution.

The physical structure of the charging station is quite simple.

It consists of a short length of overhead conductor rail, approximately 20 m to 200 m in length. This length depends on the type, length, and number of battery trains that will be charging at one time. The conductor rail is supported by normal trackside posts and high voltage insulators. Insulated cables lead from the power supply to the conductor rail, with the return path from the running
rails. Furrer+Frey makes 25 kV and 15 kV overhead conductor rail systems that are ideal for this
purpose.

The design seems to use readily available components.

What Is Overhead Conductor Rail?

This picture, that I took on the Thameslink platforms at St. Pancras station, shows the overhead conductor rail, used to power the trains.

 

St. Pancras is one of the best places to see overhead conductor rail in London, although overhead conductor rail will be used by Crossrail in the tunnels.

How Would Overhead Conductor Rail Be Used To Charge A Train’s Batteries?

A short length of such a rail, would be mounted above the track in the station, so that it could be accessed by the train’s pantograph.

The rail would be positioned so that it was exactly over the train track, at the height required by the train.

What Voltage Would Be Used?

The normal overhead voltage in the UK, is 25 KVAC. There is no reason to believe that any other voltage would be used.

The overhead conductor rail/pantograph combination has a lot of advantages and benefits.

The Overhead Conductor Rail Is Standard

The overhead conductor rail is a standard Furrer + Frey product and it can be supported in any of the appropriate ways the company has used around the world.

This picture shows conductor rail fixed to the wall in Berlin HBf station.

Or it could be fixed to gantries like these at Gospel Oak station, which carry normal overhead wiring.

 

Note that gantries come in all shapes and sizes.

The Overhead Conductor Rail Can Be Any Convenient Length

There is probably a minimum length, as although drivers can stop the trains very precisely, a few extra metres will give a margin of error.

But there is no reason why at a through platform on a line served by battery trains, couldn’t have an overhead rail, that was as long as the platform.

The Train Pantograph Is Standard

The pantograph on the train, that collects the current from the overhead conductor rail can be an almost standard unit, as it will be doing  the same job as it does on electrified sections of the route.

The white paper goes into this in detail.

As in the UK, our overhead line voltage is 25 Kv, the train can receive 1 MW with a current of 40 A, which is probably low enough to be below the limit of the conductor rail/pantograph combination. This would allow around 80 kWh to be transferred to the train in a five minute charge.

Could Trains Use Two Pantographs To Charge Batteries?

The white paper says that the system could handle more than one train, if the overhead conductor rail was long enough.

Bombardier’s Class 345 trains are effectively two half-trains, which each have their own pantograph.

So could a train use both pantographs to charge the batteries?

A Sophisticated Pantograph Control System Could Be Used

The train would probably have a sophisticated control system to automatically raise and lower the pantograph, so as to maximise the charge, whilst the train was in the station.

The System Should Be Safe

The overhead conductor rail would be no closer to passengers and staff, than overhead wires and conductor rail are at any other station platform in the UK.

I also suspect, that the power to the overhead conductor rail would only be switched on, if a train was being charged.

Standard Solutions Could Be Developed

One application of battery trains is to use them on a branch without electrification from an electrified line to a simple station in a town, housing or commercial development or airport..

The terminal stations would be very simple and surprisingly similar.

  • One platform.
  • An overhead conductor rail on gantries, a wall or some other simple support.
  • A power supply for the overhead conductor rail.

A station building,, shelters and information displays could be added to the solution or designed specifically for the location.

Solutions for a wide range of countries would only differ in a few areas.

  • The height of the platform.
  • The gauge of the track.
  • The overhead conductor rail voltage.

But I do believe that in this example of a standard system, there will be surprising commonality across the world.

As the white paper identifies, there is at least one tricky problem.

The High Voltage Power Supply

Providing high-quality, reliable high-voltage supplies may not always be that easy in some areas, so innovative electrical solutions will certainly be needed.

One solution suggested in the white paper involves using energy storage and then creating the 25 KVAC to power the overhead conductor rail.

I like this solution, as there are many applications, where these forms of independent power supplies are needed to power industrial premises, villages and equipment like flood pumps, often in remote locations. They could also incorporate a wind turbine or solar panels.

Someone will develop these systems and providing 15 or25 KVAC will be just another application.

Conclusion

I will add the conclusion from the white paper, as it says it all.

Battery trains are now available to replace diesel
trains on existing non-electrified tracks. They can
be charged using AC 25 kV 50 Hz or AC 15 kV 16,7
Hz either while running under catenary or when at
a standstill at a station using a short length of
overhead conductor rail and an appropriate power
supply. Standstill charging avoids the need to
build long stretches of catenary along a track
thereby saving money, and allowing the electrification
of track previously thought to be uneconomic
to electrify. Battery trains also enable the
use of renewable energy sources. Moving towards
green energy sources reduces harmful emissions
and noise which positively impacts climate change
and improves health

I am sure, we’ll see a lot of uses of this simple and efficient method of charging battery trains.

 

 

 

September 14, 2018 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. The Cambridge photo could be just an illustration, or if you were testing such a system, you would want to do it somewhere already electrified. Except at a terminus (e.g. Windemere) one would not normally charge a battery train at a platform, but in a siding,

    Comment by Mark Clayton | September 15, 2018 | Reply

  2. By using overhead conduction rail in a station platform, you can utilise the dwell time of the train for charging. I could see this done at stations like Leicester in a five minute stop, which could put 80 kWh in the batteries.

    But suppose, the new hybrids on the Midland Main Line were eight cars long and had two pantographs, then they could take 160 kWh on board in a five minute stop.

    Comment by AnonW | September 15, 2018 | Reply

  3. […] Also, in Buxtehude station, which has 15 KVAC electrification on other lines, the bay platform that it appears will be used for the hydrogen-powered trains could be electrified to charge the batteries, during the  twenty-eight minutes, that the train is in the station. Perhaps, they could use a system such as I wrote about in Is This The Solution To A Charging Station For Battery Trains? […]

    Pingback by An Analysis Of The Route Between Buxtehude And Cuxhaven « The Anonymous Widower | September 18, 2018 | Reply

  4. […] But the trains would be ideal for the sort of charging system, that I wrote about in Is This The Solution To A Charging Station For Battery Trains?. […]

    Pingback by Porterbrook Makes Case For Battery/Electric Bi-Mode Conversion « The Anonymous Widower | October 18, 2018 | Reply


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