The Anonymous Widower

Express On A Perpetual Motion Machine. Scientists Create An Electric Train That Will Charge By Gravity

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

The world’s first “infinity train” will recharge its electric batteries during deceleration using the force of gravity.

Scientists and engineers from the Australian company Fortescue Future Industries have begun developing the world’s first train that will be powered by gravity. The company plans to spend $50 million on this development over the next two years, according to the Daily Mail.

How Does The Train Work?

According to the article, the sequence of operation appears to be as follows.

  • The train starts at the high end of the line.
  • The train rolls down the hill to the low end of the line.
  • As it descends, it will pick up kinetic energy due to gravity.
  • Regenerative braking on the train will be used to charge the battery.
  • The train will have a full battery, when it reaches the low end of the line.
  • The full battery will then power the empty train back up the hill.

I have a feeling that this will work, where there is a full train coming down the hill and an empty one going up.

In an example, I will assume the following.

  • The high end of the line is 100 metres above the low end.
  • The train weighs 100 tonnes.
  • The full load weighs 100 tonnes.
  • Regenerative braking is 100 % efficient.

I can calculate these energy values for a train running down and then up the line.

  • A full train just about to descend, which weighs 200 tonnes and is 100 metres up will have a potential energy of 54.4 kWh.
  • Whilst descending, this energy will be converted to kinetic energy and the regenerative braking will transfer this energy to the battery, which will then contain 54.4 kWh of electrical energy.
  • After descending, the full train, which weighs 200 tonnes and is zero metres up will have a potential energy of 0 kWh.
  • After emptying, the empty train, which weighs 100 tonnes and is zero metres up will have a potential energy of 0 kWh.
  • After ascending, the the empty train, which weighs 100 tonnes and is 100 metres up will have a potential energy of 27.2 kWh.
  • When the train reaches the high end, there will still be 27.2 kWh left in the battery.

Note.

  1. After a trip, there will be some energy left in the battery to start the train rolling down the hill on the next trip.
  2. Effectively, the train is powered by the weight of its cargo, which in Fortescue’s case is very dense iron ore on its trains from Pilbara to the coast.
  3. In some ways the Infinity train carrying iron ore is a bit like an overshot water wheel, where weight is added to the wheel and this makes the wheel turn.
  4. The train is driven by the weight of the cargo.

It may look like perpetual motion, but the train needs to be loaded for each trip to increase its potential energy.

I will now look at a passenger train on the same route.

  • The high end of the line is 100 metres above the low end.
  • The train weighs 100 tonnes.
  • I will assume there are 50 passengers in both directions.
  • I will assume each weighs 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies, which gives a weight of 4 tonnes.
  • Regenerative braking is 100 % efficient.

I can calculate these energy values for a passenger train running down and then up the line.

  • A passenger train just about to descend, which weighs 104 tonnes and is 100 metres up will have a potential energy of 28.3 kWh.
  • Whilst descending, this energy will be converted to kinetic energy and the regenerative braking will transfer this energy to the battery, which will then contain 28.3 kWh of electrical energy.
  • After descending, the full train, which weighs 104 tonnes and is zero metres up will have a potential energy of 0 kWh.
  • After emptying and reloading, the empty train, which weighs 104 tonnes and is zero metres up will have a potential energy of 0 kWh.
  • After ascending, the the empty train, which weighs 104 tonnes and is 100 metres up will have a potential energy of 28.3 kWh.

Note.

  1. After a trip, there will be almost no energy left in the battery to start the train rolling down the hill on the next trip.
  2. If the regenerative braking has an efficiency of less than 100 %, it would be unlikely to work.

But it would work, if an appropriate amount of energy were to be added to the battery at either or both ends of the route.

Could A Passenger Train Like This Work On A Real Route?

In the UK, there are several lines, where a rail line climbs a few hundred metres.

  • Cardiff Central and Aberdare
  • Cardiff Central and Ebbw Vale Town
  • Cardiff Central and Merthyr Tydfil
  • Cardiff Central and Rhymney
  • Cardiff Central and Treherbert
  • Glasgow Central and East Kilbride
  • Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Glossop

For the trains to work, I suspect the following is needed.

  • Regenerative braking efficiency must be as close to 100 % as possible.
  • The total number of passengers going down during the day needs to be at least the same as the total number of passengers going up.
  • For passenger trains to work, an appropriate amount of energy needs to be added to the battery at either or both ends of the route.

Freight trains which are transferring weight down the hill will generally always work.

Conclusion

The Infinity Train will work well with heavy freight, but will probably need supplemental charging to work with passenger trains.

Both heavy freight and passenger trains will use less energy, than one working to traditional principles.

 

March 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Great British Journeys┃Beautiful Railway Journeys┃24/7 Live Stream

The title of this post is the same as this National Rail video on YouTube.

This is their description.

Sit back and relax as you enjoy a driver’s eye view of Britain’s most picturesque railway journeys, streamed in our exclusive footage.

Experience what it’s like to travel across the Scottish Highlands; watch the waves crash against the Devon coast; get lost in the pleasant green land of Wales and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Suffolk.

The sounds and the motion of travelling by train have been scientifically proven to help people relax, which is why we’ve developed Great British Journeys; a series of the country’s most scenic train journeys – all shot from the train driver’s cab.

It looks like this could be an idea that grows and could turn out to be good marketing.

March 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Resilient Net Zero Electricity System Achievable By 2035 But Increased Investment Required, Regen Report Finds

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The technical solutions needed to operate a net zero electricity system by 2035 are available or attainable, Regen has found, though a step-change in the level of investment is still needed.

The trade body has produced a new report for National Grid ESO into a ‘day in the life’ of a fully decarbonized electricity system by 2035, which the ESO is aiming for.

The article gives a lot of figures about our electricity supply in 2035.

Consumption of electricity will be between 450 and 500TWh per year, with the following sources.

  • 55-65GW of offshore wind
  • 25-35GW onshore wind
  • 40-50GW of solar
  • 6-10GW of other renewables
  • 10-15GW of low carbon dispatch
  • 8-10GW of nuclear
  • 8-12GW of carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • 15-25GW of fossil fuel backup.

Note.

  1. 450-500 TWh is 51-57 GW per hour averaged out over the year.
  2. They emphasise the importance of energy storage.
  3. No mention is made of the massive Coire Glas pumped hydro storage.
  4. No mention is made of hydrogen.
  5. As is normal, with reports like this the authors don’t keep their GW and GWh separate.
  6. They also don’t explain the hierarchy of MW, GW and TW, which is 1000 x steps up the scale.

The full report is at this page on the Internet.

March 17, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | 2 Comments

Harrow-On-The-Hill Station – 16th March 2022

Harrow-On-The-Hill station is now step-free.

Note.

  1. Three lifts have been added with a new walkway between them.
  2. It looks like the brick-work and other details are tasteful and in keeping with the original station.

It is one of the best step-free installations, constructed in the last few years.

March 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment