The Anonymous Widower

Environmentally-Friendly InterCity 125 Trains

InterCity 125 trains are not the most environmentally-friendly of beasts.

  • They do not meet the modern emission regulations.
  • They still emit a lot of carbon dioxide.
  • They is also a deadline of 2040, when UK railways will be net-carbon-free.

There might also be individuals and groups, who feel that these elderly trains with so much history, should be replaced by modern zero-carbon trains.

  • Would the same groups accept electrification with all the wires?
  • Would the train operating companies, accept battery power will long waits for charging?
  • Would hydrogen be viable on the numerous branch lines in Devon and Cornwall, with some difficult access to depots by road. Especially, if the hydrogen had to be brought from say Bristol or Southampton!

But various engineering solutions are emerging.

Biodiesel

This is probably the simplest solution and I suspect most modern engines can run on biodiesel with simple modifications. InterCity 125s have modern engines from German firm and Rolls-Royce subsidiary; MTU, so they probably have a solution in their tool-box.

Computerisation

I have never built a computer control system for anything, but I did work with the first engineers in the world, who computerised a chemical plant.

They always emphasised, if you could nudge the plant into the best area of operation, you’d have a much more efficient plant, that produced more product from the same amount of feedstock.

At about the same time, aircraft engine manufacturers were developing FADEC or Full Authority Digital Engine Control, which effectively let the engine’s control system take over the engine and do what the pilot had requested. The pilot can take back control, but if FADEC fails, the engine is dead.

But judging by the numbers of jet aircraft, that have engine failures, this scenario can’t be very common, as otherwise the tabloids would be screaming as they did recently over the 737 MAX.

Now, I don’t know whether the MTU 16V4000 R41R engines fitted to the InterCity 125, have an intelligent FADEC to improve their performance or whether they are of an older design.

If you worry about FADEC, when you fly, then read or note these points.

  •  Read the FADEC’s Wikipedia entry.
  • Your car is likely to be heavily computerised.
  • If you took a modern train or bus to the airport, that certainly will have been heavily computerised.

You could be more likely to meet someone with COVID-19 on a flight, than suffer an air-crash, depending on where you travel.

Rolls-Royce’s Staggering Development

Staggering is not my word, but that of Paul Stein, who is Rolls-Royce’s Chief Technology Officer.

He used the word in a press release, which I discuss in Our Sustainability Journey.

To electrify aviation, Rolls-Royce has developed a 2.5 MW generator, based on a small gas-turbine engine, which Paul Stein describes like this.

Amongst the many great achievements from E-Fan X has been the generator – about the same size as a beer keg – but producing a staggering 2.5 MW. That’s enough power to supply 2,500 homes and fully represents the pioneering spirit on this project.

This generator is designed for flight and the data sheet for the gas-turbine engine is available on the Internet.

  • It has a weight of under a couple of tonnes compared to the thirteen tonnes of the diesel engine and generator in a Class 68 locomotive.
  • It is also more powerful than the diesel.
  • It looks to be as frugal, if not more so!
  • Rolls-Royce haven’t said if this gas-turbine can run on aviation biofuel, but as many of Rolls-Royce’s large engines can, I would be very surprised if it couldn’t!

Rolls-Royce’s German subsidiary is a large producer of rail and maritime diesel engines, so the company has the expertise to customise the generator for rail applications.

Conclusion

I think it is possible, that the Class 43 power-cars can be re-engined to make them carbon-neutral.

September 25, 2020 - Posted by | Computing, Health, Transport | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. There is also the DME option (Dimethyl ether gas) as a retrofit to existing diesel motors.

    But unlikely to be practical for lots of reasons.

    Comment by MilesT | September 26, 2020 | Reply


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