The Anonymous Widower

Hydrogen Gas From Biogas

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Finance News Network.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Managing Director and CEO Geoff Ward talks about the Hazer process for low emissions hydrogen gas and high purity graphite production from biogas, CAPEX approval to proceed with the company’s commercial demonstration plant and offtake discussions.

The process doesn’t create any CO2, as it extracts the carbon as a crystalline graphite. So are there two worthwhile products from the biogas?

According to this page on Graphene Info, the graphite can be made to create graphene.

May 27, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Bamboo Sleepers Aimed At Middle Eastern Railways

The title of this post, is the same as that on this article on the Railway Gazette.

Sounds surprising, but the company founder and CEO, gives these advantages.

Avraham says that bamboo sleepers bring advantages in railway construction and renewal because the material does not require additional after-treatment with substances such as creosote in order to provide long term protection. It is also naturally impervious to insect infestation. This means the risk of soil and groundwater contamination from chemicals is minimised compared to alternative materials.

They are going to launch production with 50,000 tonnes of raw bamboo.

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

Reintroduction Of Passenger Rail Services On The Waterside Line

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

At first I wasn’t sure, which line was referred to as the Waterside Line. But then I looked at the Fawley Line on Wikipedia.

This is the opening paragraph.

The Fawley branch line, also known as the Waterside line is a standard-gauge railway line to Fawley, in the English county of Hampshire. It is on the opposite side of Southampton Water from the city of Southampton itself, in an area known as Waterside. For 40 years a passenger service operated, but this was withdrawn with the exception of the occasional enthusiasts’ railtour. The line serves the freight needs of Marchwood Military Port, having also served the same function for Fawley Refinery until 2016.

I explored this line in Reopening The Fawley Branch Line.

The Wikipedia entry, also gives details under Future, of a plan by the Association of Train Operating Companies to reopen the line.

The proposals in Wikipedia included.

  1. Reopening of all former stations along the line; Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley Halt and Fawley
  2. A new station in Totton called Totton West, sited just west of the junction with the main line.
  3. A new train service from Fawley or Hythe to Totton and on via Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey before returning to Southampton Central, Totton and Fawley or Hythe, also serving other intermediate stations.

The service was planned to run half-hourly during peak times and hourly at other times.

The Route

This Google Map shows the area of the Waterside Line

Fawley Branch Line

Note.

  1. The line starts at Totton and there used to be stations at Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley and Fawley.
  2. All the places with stations are named on the map.
  3. The line is about seven miles in length.
  4. From my helicopter, it looks to be single-track most, if not all the way.
  5. There is a ferry between Hythe and Southampton.

This picture shows where the Waterside Line joins the main line.

 

It all looks pretty tidy and in good condition, so making the connection to the main line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The line passes through Hythe about two hundred metres from the water.

This Google Map shows Hythe.

The railway can be picked out as the green scar going across the bottom of the map.

I took these pictures, when I visited Hythe in February 2017.

I’m not sure, where the new Hythe station would go.

As the Waterside Line was still fully in use to Esso Fawley until four years ago, I should suspect that updating the track and signalling for passenger trains wouldn’t be the most challenging of projects.

The Trains

Wikipedia says this about the trains to be used.

The service would be operated by the then franchisee; South West Trains using diesel multiple units (DMUs)

This means they will be Class 158 or Class 159 trains, as South West Trains doesn’t have any other DMUs.

This picture shows a newly-liveried Class 159 train at Corfe Castle station.

The Class 158/159 trains would certainly do a job, but I believe that any solution must be zero-carbon, to meet the UK’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050.

The Use Of Battery Trains

Consider.

  • Fawley and Totton West Junction are seven files apart. As there are five stations, I will assume three minutes per station of a journey of fifteen minutes.
  • Totton West and Eastleigh are ten miles apart and fast trains take seventeen minutes.
  • Eastleigh and Romsey are seven miles apart and fast trains take fourteen minutes.
  • Only the section between Totton West and Eastleigh is electrified.
  • Adding up the times gives a journey time between Fawley and Romsey of forty-six minutes.
  • Add in fourteen minutes to turn the trains and each Fawley and Romsey takes an hour with a two-hour round trip. This is all very convenient!
  • For example, an hourly service, would need two trains and they could leave Fawley and Romsey at the same time.
  • It could also be arranged, that only one train was on the single-track Waterside Line at any one time.
  • The fourteen minutes being used to turn the train, could also be used to charge the batteries on a battery-electric train.
  • In each two-hour round trip between Fawley and Romsey, trains would spent thirty-four minutes connected to electrification and twenty-eight minutes connected to chargers. This means that there is plenty of time to charge the batteries.
  •  It should be noted that the train runs on a busy main line between Totton West and Eastleigh, so good acceleration and 90-100 mph capability would probably be needed, by any trains shuttling between Fawley and Romsey.

With charging facilities at Romsey and Fawley, I would be certain, that a two battery-electric trains could provide an hourly service on the route.

Candidates would probably include battery-electric versions of a Bombardier Aventra or Electrostar, a CAF Civity or a Siemens Desiro City. I doubt, that the performance of a Class 230 train is enough to keep out of the way of fast expresses.

The Use Of Hydrogen Trains

The route could also be worked by a hydrogen-powered train with enough performance.

The Stations

There would need to be new stations at Totton West, Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley and Fawley.

As the first is new and the others were closed in the 1960s, they would be complete builds, rather than an easy refurbishment.

Fawley Waters

In the Wikipedia entry for Fawley station, there is a section called Proposed Reopening, where this is said.

In August 2018, it was revealed that plans to reopen the Fawley Branch Line had been resurrected as part of the redevelopment known as Fawley Waters. It proposed a half-hourly service on a Monday to Saturday from Southampton Central to Fawley. At Marchwood the journey time would take 12 minutes and the linespeed would be 60 mph (97 km/h). Fawley station, if reopened, would be known as Hythe & Fawley Parkway which would serve both Hythe and Fawley.

Now, there would appear to be two plans for the operation of the Waterside Line.

  • The Association for Train Operating Companies plan, which has an hourly service to Totton, Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey, from five stations on the branch.
  • The Fawley Waters plan, which has a half-hourly service to Totton and Southampton Central, from just two stations on the branch.

One plan would probably appeal to existing residents and the other to those, who bought new properties in Fawley Waters.

Conclusion

Future studies funded by the successful bid, could decide, which plan is best.

Overall though, this is a simple plan, that opens up an area to the West of Southampton for development.

 

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Reinstatement Of Branch Lines On The Isle Of Wight

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

This article on isleofwhiteradio is entitled Funding From Government To Develop Isle Of Wight Railway Reopening Proposals.

The article lists two proposed schemes for expansion of the Island Line.

• Extension of the existing Island Line service (Ryde-Shanklin) south of Shanklin to reach Ventnor, calling at Wroxall.
• Integration with, and extension of, the existing Isle of Wight Steam Railway route to provide passenger services through Smallbrook from Ryde to Newport.

The article has an informative map.

Nearly, three years ago, I wrote Diesel And Battery Trains Could Be The Solution For Island Line, based on an article on the Island Echo, with the same title.

Since then, things have moved on and these developments have started.

  • Vivarail are building a fleet of five new zero-carbon Class 484 electric trains.
  • Network Rail have promised £5 million to upgrade Ryde Pier to secure the future of the line.
  • The track and signalling system will be upgraded this winter.
  • The passing loop at Brading will be reinstated.

This will allow a thirty minute service interval from May 2021.

Wikipedia states that a twenty-minute service could be possible in the future.

The Trains

These pictures show the Class 230 trains on the Marston Vale Line.

Note.

  1. These are a diesel-electric version of the Class 484, which will use the existing third-rail electrification and possibly batteries on the Island Line.
  2. The operator can choose an interior appropriate to their needs.
  3. Three-car versions of the train have been ordered by Transport for Wales.

Battery versions of the train are available with a forty-mile range, See Retired London Underground Train Travels Forty Miles Solely On Battery Power.

The Extension To Ventnor

Looking at the map and measuring distance using methods that would have been known to Drake and Grenville, I estimate that the distance between Shanklin and Ventnor via Wroxhall is less than fifteen miles.

  • As the battery range of Vivarail’s trains can be in the region of forty miles, this must open up the possibility of using battery power between Shanklin and Ventnor.
  • Building the extension without electrification would lower the cost.
  • Trains running from Shanklin to Ventnor would be charged on the electrified section of the route.
  • One of Vivarail’s charging systems could be installed at Ventnor if required. See Charging A Battery-Powered Class 230 Train.

Would Vivarail just add a third car with batteries to the Class 484 trains and update the software to enable trains to run on the extension to Ventnor?

The Extension To Newport

The Island Line connects to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Smallbrook Junction station.

Note.

  1. The Island line running North-South on the Eastern side of the map.
  2. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway curving away to the South-West.
  3. The two railways connecting at Smallbrook Junction station.
  4. Ryde is to the North.
  5. Shanklin is to the South.
  6. Newport is to the West.

I doubt, that allowing trains to run between Ryde and Newport, would be one of the most challenging projects in railway engineering.

The map on the isleofwightradio web site, shows a chord, that would allow trains to run between Shanklin and Newport.

I would estimate that the distance between Smallbrook Junction and Newport is around ten miles.

  • The terminus would appear to be in the Barton area of Newport.
  • Much of the route would appear to be across open countryside.
  • The only place for a station could be the Isle of Wight Crematorium. Why not?

As with the extension to Ventnor, I believe that battery-electric Class 484 trains could run services to Newport.

Will The Isle Of Wight Steam Railway Object?

I very much feel, that if the scheme is well-designed, that they could be a beneficiary because of increased numbers of visitors.

The scheme might also be able to give the steam railway paths to run steam trains as far as Ryde St. John’s Road station.

Conclusion

This proposal is an elegant one, that uses proven technology and builds smoothly on work, that is already underway.

It is also a zero-carbon solution, if the electricity is from renewable sources.

I also suspect, if Network Rail put one of their brighter teams on the current upgrade to the track and signalling of the Island Line, that the extra work needed to connect to Ventnor and Newport, could be planned and costed in a very short time.

 

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sizewell C: Nuclear Power Station Plans For Suffolk Submitted

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on the BBC.

A few points from the article.

  • It will provide enough electricity for six million homes.
  • It will create 25,000 jobs during construction.
  • Sizewell C will be a near replica to Hinckley Point C.
  • It will generate 3.2 GW of electricity.
  • It will be low-carbon electricity.

As a well-read and experienced engineer, I am not against the technologies of nuclear power.

But I do think, by the time it is completed , other technologies like wind and energy storage will be much better value. They will also be more flexible and easier to expand, should we get our energy forecasts wrong.

  • We will see higher power and more efficient wind farms, further out in the North Sea.
  • Massive energy storage systems, based on improved pumped storage technology and using new technology from companies like Highview Power, Zinc8 and others will be built.
  • Wind and solar power an energy storage are much easier to fund and financial institutions like L & G, Aberdeen Standard and Aviva have invested in the past for our future pensions.
  • If you want to go nuclear, small modular reactors, look to be much better value in the longer term.
  • I also don’t like the involvement of the Chinese in the project. History tells me, that all pandemics seem to start in the country!

It is my view that the biggest mistake we made in this country over energy was not to built the Severn Barrage.

My preferred design would be based on the ideas of Sir Frederick Snow.

There would have been a high and a low lake, either side of a central spine, behind an outer barrage.

  • Reversible turbines and pumps between the lakes would both generate and store electricity.
  • When proposed in the 1970s, it would have generated ten percent of the UK’s electricity.
  • A new road and rail crossing of the Severn, could have been built into the outer barrage.
  • A lock would have provided access for shipping.
  • It would have controlled the periodic, regular and often devastating flooding of the River Severn.

Some versions of the original design, even incorporated an international airport.

  • The runways would be in the right direction for the prevailing wind, with regard to take-off and landing.
  • Take-off would be over open sea.
  • High speed trains could speed travellers to and from London on an updated Great Western Railway.

I believe a modern design could be even better.

  • The central spine and the outer barrage would be the foundations for a large wind farm.
  • There would also be a large number of powerful floating wind turbines to the West of the outer barrage in the Severn Estuary.
  • A giant electrolyser on the central spine would produce hydrogen, that could be used to decarbonise the UK’s gas network.
  • A power interconnector could be built into the outer barrage to connect Wales to the nuclear power stations at Hinckley :Point.
  • A cluster of small nuclear reactors could be built on the central spine.
  • In the intervening fifty years, we have probably learned how to build a barrage like this, so that it can benefit birds and other wildlife.

I believe, it will never be too late to build a Severn Barrage.

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments