The Anonymous Widower

Roger Ford’s Cunning Plan

In the February 2020 of Modern Railways, there is an article called LNER Procurement, which has been written by Roger Ford.

It is Roger’s reply to an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, which was entitled LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes.

He starts by describing the requirement and then says this.

Would any fleet engineer in his or her right mind want to add a unique sub-fleet of 10 high speed trains to an existing successful fleet, even if they were hydrogen-electric tri-modes from the respected Kim Chong t’ae Electric Locomotive Works?

In my analysis of the December 2020 article, I wrote this post with the same name, where I said this, under a heading of More Azumas?

Surely, It would require a very innovative train at perhaps a rock-bottom price from another manufacturer, for LNER to not acquire extra Azumas.

So it would appear that Roger and myself are vaguely in agreement on the subject of more Azumas.

The last section of the article has a title of Cunning.

Roger puts forward, the view that the procurement process, as well as being compatible with EU law, could be a warning to Hitachi, to make sure that LNER get a good deal.

It certainly could be, and I remember a similar maneuver by ICI around 1970.

The company was buying a lot of expensive IBM 360 computers.

ICI needed a new computer to do scientific calculations at their Central Instrument Research Establishment (CIRL) at Pangbourne in Berkshire.

  • English Electric had just released a clone of an IBM 360 and were keen to sell it to ICI.
  • As it would do everything that ICI wanted, they bought one.
  • It worked well and did everything that CIRL wanted at a cheaper price.

IBM’s reaction was supposedly quick and dramatic. The salesman who dealt with ICI, was immediately fired!

But as ICI had about a dozen large IBM computers, there wasn’t much they could do to one of the most important and largest UK companies.

IBM also made sure, that ICI got their next computer at a good price.

I’m with Roger that all the shenanigans are a warning to Hitachi.

Roger finishes the article with these two paragraphs.

A genuine bluff would have been to seek bids for the long-term deployment of remanufactured IC225s. Which in these straitened times could still turn out to be a more viable option.

I rather fancy the idea of a hydrogen-electric Class 91. Owner Eversholt Rail might even have played along on the understanding that it funded the inevitable hybrid Azumas.

Note that IC225s are InterCity 225 trains.

  • The 31 trains, were built for  British Rail in the 1980s.
  • They are hauled by a 4.83 MW Class 91 locomotive, which is usually at the Northern end of the train.
  • Nine Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer complete the train.
  • As with the Hitachi Azumas (Class 800 and Class 801 trains), they are capable of operating at 140 mph on lines where digital in-cab ERTMS signalling has been installed.

I just wonder, if a Class 91 locomotive could be to the world’s first 140 mph hydrogen-electric locomotive.

Consider the following.

Dynamics

The wheels, bogies and traction system were designed by British Rail Engineering Ltd, who were the masters of dynamics. This is a sentence from the locomotive’s Wikipedia entry.

Unusually, the motors are body mounted and drive bogie-mounted gearboxes via cardan shafts. This reduces the unsprung mass and hence track wear at high speeds.

That is a rather unique layout. But it obviously works, as otherwise these locomotives would have been scrapped decades ago.

I believe the quality dynamics are because BREL owned a PACE 231R for a start, which was an analogue computer, that was good enough for NASA to use two computers like this to calculate how to put a man on the moon.

London and Edinburgh is a slightly shorter distance, run at a somewhat slower speed.

Space

This picture shows a Class 91 locomotive.

What is in the space in the rear end of the nearly twenty metre-long locomotive?

This sentence from the Wikipedia entry for the locomotive gives a clue.

The locomotive also features an underslung transformer, so that the body is relatively empty compared to contemporary electric locomotives.

It also states that much of the layout came from the APT-P, which was a version of the tilting Advanced Passenger Train.

Would the space be large enough for a tank of hydrogen and some form of generator that used the hydrogen as fuel?

It should be noted that one version of the APT used a gas-turbine engine, so was the locomotive designed for future use as a bi-mode?

Fuel Cells

I’ve ignored fuel cells, as to get the amount of power needed, the fuel cells could be too large for the locomotive.

Class 91 Locomotive Performance

The performance of a Class 91 locomotive is as follows.

  • Power output – 4.83 MW
  • Operating speed – 140 mph
  • Record Speed – 161 mph

Not bad for a 1980s locomotive.

Required Performance Using Hydrogen Fuel

If the locomotives were only needed to use hydrogen to the North of the electrification from London, the locomotive would need to be able to haul a rake of coaches twice on the following routes.

  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh Haymarket – 130 miles
  • Inverness and Stirling – 146 miles

A range of three hundred miles would be sufficient.

The locomotive would need refuelling at Aberdeen and Inverness.

The operating speed of both routes is nowhere near 140 mph and I suspect that a maximum speed of 100 mph on hydrogen, pulling or pushing a full-size train, would probably be sufficient.

When you consider that a nine-car Class 800 train has five 560 kW diesel engines, that give a total power of 2.8 MW, can carry 611 passengers and an InterCity 225 can only carry 535, I don’t think that the power required under hydrogen will be as high as that needed under electricity.

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce have developed a 2.5 MW generator, that is the size of a beer keg. I wrote about it in Our Sustainability Journey.

Could one of these incredibly-powerful generators provide enough power to speed an InterCity 225 train, through the Highlands of Scotland to Aberdeen and Inverness, at speeds of up to 100 mph.

I would give it a high chance of being a possible dream.

Application Of Modern Technology

I do wonder, if the locomotive’s cardan shaft drive could be improved by modern technology.

These pictures show Joseph Bazalgette’s magnificent Abbey Mills Pumping station in East London.

A few years ago, Thames Water had a problem. Under the pumping station are Victorian centrifugal pumps that pump raw sewage to Beckton works for treatment. These are connected to 1930s electric motors in Dalek-like structures on the ground floor, using heavy steel shafts. The motors are controlled from the control panel in the first image.

The shafts were showing signs of their age and needed replacement.

So Thames Water turned to the experts in high-power transmission at high speed – Formula One.

The pumps are now connected to the electric motors, using high-strength, lower-weight carbon-fibre shafts.

Could this and other modern technology be used to update the cardan shafts and other parts of these locomotives?

Could The Locomotives Use Regenerative Braking To Batteries?

I’ll start by calculating the kinetic energy of a full InterCity 225 train.

  • The Class 91 locomotive weighs 81.5 tonnes
  • Nine Mark 4 coaches weigh a total of 378 tonnes
  • A driving van trailer weighs 43.7 tonnes.
  • This gives a total weight of 503.2 tonnes.

Assuming that each of the 535 passengers, weighs 90 Kg with babies, baggage, bikes and buggies, this gives a passenger weight of 48.15 tonnes or a total train weight of 551.35 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives the following values at different speeds.

  • 100 mph – 153 kWh
  • 125 mph – 239 kWh
  • 140 mph – 300 kWh

I think, that a 300 kWh battery could be fitted into the back of the locomotive, along with the generator and the fuel tank.

With new traction motors, that could handle regenerative braking, this would improve the energy efficiency of the trains.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Sustainable aviation fuel produced by companies like Altalto would surely be an alternative to hydrogen.

  • It has been tested by many aerospace companies in large numbers of gas turbines.
  • As it has similar properties to standard aviation fuel, the handling rules are well-known.

When produced from something like household waste, by Altalto, sustainable aviation fuel is carbon-neutral and landfill-negative.

ERTMS Signalling And Other Upgrades

Full ERTMS digital signalling will needed to be fitted to the trains to enable 140 mph running.

Conclusion

I believe it is possible to convert a Class 91 locomotive into a hydrogen-electric locomotive with the following specification.

  • 4.83 MW power on electricity.
  • 140 mph on electrification
  • 2.5 MW on hydrogen power.
  • 100 mph on hydrogen
  • Regenerative braking to battery.

If it were easier to use sustainable aviation fuel, that may be a viable alternative to hydrogen, as it is easier to handle.

 

February 3, 2021 - Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. The simplicity of having one type for the entire fleet is a no brainer.

    Comment by William McIntyre | February 3, 2021 | Reply

  2. Just to correct some of your assumptions about the development of the Class 91 locomotive and the role BRB Research played you could do little better than to read the following
    https://www.keymodernrailways.com/article/let-us-now-praise-famous-men
    As well my contact s with John Dowling and Dr Mike Reece, who really drove this project, I personally well remember Prof. Richard Drain, the technical consultant to the Chairman of BRB and the part he had in the introduction of the locos.

    Comment by fammorris | August 27, 2021 | Reply


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