The Anonymous Widower

The Fastest Ambulance In The World

This article on CityLab is entitled To Fight a Fast-Moving Pandemic, Get a Faster Hospital.

This is the introductory paragraph.

To move Covid-19 patients from the hardest-hit areas, authorities in France turned one of the nation’s famous TGV trains into a very fast ambulance.

It appears that French COVID-19 outbreaks are as patchy, as they are in the UK, where some towns and cities like Hull, Blackpool and Middlesbrough have only a few COVID-19 patients and major hospitals.

Evening up the numbers is probably a good idea.

Could we see a spare InterCity 125 train fitted out as an ambulance train to move patients around the country?

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

My Hand Appears To Be Healed

I went to see the nurse this morning and the wound looked so bad and yellow, when she took the dressing off, she got another nurse for a second opinion.

But after a good scratch from a rubber-gloved hand, she said, I wouldn’t need to come back.

I took this picture, when I got home.

Obviously, my odd collection of Jewish, Huguenot and Devonian genes are using all their survival instincts to mend my secondary hand.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Health | | 1 Comment

Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?

Currently, Avanti West Coast‘s trains between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations are timetabled as follows.

  • The journey takes two hours and thirteen or fourteen minutes.
  • There are three stops at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • The stops with the current Class 390 trains seem to take around a minute.
  • There is one train per hour (tph)
  • A second hourly service with a stop at Liverpool South Parkway is planned to be introduced in December 2022.

In 2022, a new fleet of Hitachi AT-300 trains will be introduced on the route. I believe, it would be reasonable to assume, that these trains will have similar or better performance, than the current Class 390 trains.

  • Acceleration and braking are likely to be better.
  • Regenerative braking energy may well be handled more efficiently.
  • The trains may well be equipped with in-cab digital signalling and be able to travel in excess of 125 mph in places.

I would expect, that these trains could be running near to or at 125 mph on most of the journey.

London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street are 193.5 miles apart, so if a train could be running at 125 mph all the way, a train would take 93 minutes.

Extra time must be added for the following.

  • Acceleration from a standing start to 125 mph at London Euston, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • Deceleration from 125 mph to a stop at Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street.
  • Dwell time in the platforms at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train, which is a bi-mode AT-300 train with three diesel engines.

The data sheet shows that a five-car train can accelerate to 125 mph and then decelerate to a stop in six minutes in electric mode. As Avanti West Coast’s trains will be all-electric seven-car trains with perhaps only one diesel engine, I doubt they will be slower than a Class 802 train in electric mode. So four accelerations/deceleration cycles  to 125 mph should take no more than twenty-four minutes.

I will assume two minutes for each of the three stops.

I can now give an estimate for the journey.

  • Base journey time – 93 minutes
  • Acceleration from and deceleration to stops – 24 minutes
  • Station dwell time – 6 minutes

This gives a journey time between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street of two hours and three minutes.

The journey time can probably be improved in the following ways.

  • Take full advantage of the track improvements on the approach to Liverpool Lime Street station and at Norton Bridge Junction.
  • Better train pathing, as has been done on London Liverpool Street and Norwich services to create the fast Norwich-in-Ninety services.
  • Track and signal improvements to pinch a minute here and a minute there.
  • As Runcorn now has an hourly Liverpool Lime Street and Chester service, will the Runcorn stop be dropped to save time?
  • Reduction in station dwell time.
  • Better driver aids.

It should be born in mind, that a two hour journey between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street would be a start-stop average speed of 97 mph on a 125 mph route. Intriguingly, this means the trains would run at 77 % of the maximum operating speed of the route, which is the same figure for Norwich-in-Ninety services.

Some of these improvements may enable the Class 390 trains to go a bit faster.

Thoughts On The Current Class 390 Timings

As the Class 390 trains are a 125 mph train, their base timing of 93 minutes, between London and Liverpool should still be the same.

As their doors and lobbies are similar in design to those of the Hitachi AT-300 trains, I would allow the same two minutes of dwell time at each station.

Current timings of services on the route vary between 132 and 134 minutes. I’ll take the average of 133 minutes.

So the current services take thirty-four minutes to perform the four accelerate and decelerate sequences on the route.

It would appear that this sequence would take eight-and-a-half minutes in comparison with the six minutes of the new Hitachi AT-300 trains.

An Improved London Euston and Blackpool North Service

The new AT-300 trains will also be running to Blackpool.

  • London Euston and Blackpool North takes between two hours and forty-four minutes and two hours and fifty-nine minutes.
  • Journey times are not very consistent, probably due to timetabling difficulties.
  • Trains stop between four and five times on the West Coast Main Line.

Would the faster stops of the new AT-300 trains mean that Avanti West Coast could run a more regular timetable, with all services under three hours?

It should also be noted, that Grand Central will start a London Euston and Blackpool North service in Spring 2020.

As the rolling stock for this new service will be Class 90 locomotives hauling rakes of Mark 4 coaches, that will be limited to 110 mph, are Avanti West Coast making sure, that they have the fastest trains on the route?

Would AT-300 trains Save Time To Other Avanti West Coast Destinations?

If we assume that AT-300 trains can save two-and-a-half minutes per accelerate and decelerate sequence times could change as follow.

  • Birmingham New Street – One hour and twenty-two minutes – Three stops – One hour and twelve minutes
  • Coventry – One hour – Two stops – Fifty-five minutes
  • Crewe – One hour and thirty-four minutes – One stop – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Glasgow – As services stop six or thirteen times, there may be substantial savings to be achieved.
  • Manchester – Between two hours and seven minutes and two hours and thirteen minutes – Three stops – Between one hour and fifty-seven minutes and two hours and three minutes.

Note.

  1. The number of accelerate and decelerate sequences is one more than the number of stops.
  2. Coventry services would be under an hour.
  3. Two out of three Manchester services would be under two hours.

This analysis illustrates how fast train performance is important in more customer-friendly services.

Conclusion

I believe that a two hour service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street will be possible with Avanti West Coast’s new AT-300 trains.

I also believe, that the current Class 390 trains could go a bit faster.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

History And Future Of The Compressed Air Economy

A reader in Canada has sent me a link to this article on Low Tech Magazine, which has the same title as this post.

This is the introductory sub-title.

Historical compressed air systems hold the key to the design of a low-tech, low-cost, robust, sustainable and relatively energy efficient energy storage medium.

As regular readers of this blog, will have noticed, I regularly post about a company called Highview Power.

This is the introduction from the Wikipedia entry for Highview Power.

Highview Power is a long-duration energy storage pioneer, specialising in cryogenic energy storage. It is based in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has permission for a commercial-scale 50 Megawatt/250 Megawatt-hour plant in England, building upon its earlier 5 Megawatt and 350 Kilowatt pilot plants. It plans to develop a 50MW plant/400MWh (eight hours of storage) in Vermont.

It has over 30 patents developed in partnership with British universities and has won technology funding from the British Government.

In February 2020 Sumitomo Heavy Industries invested $46m in the company.

The article on Low Tech Magazine gives the history of compressed air energy storage (CAES) and is a good background to the subject.

March 26, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia’s New Community Solar, Solar-Storage, ‘Solar Hydro’ And Solar Hydrogen Projects

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Energy Storage News.

This is the introductory paragraph.

In the past couple of weeks, national and state government organisations in Australia have announced various stages of consideration for solar projects with a range of advanced and innovative storage solutions attached.

The article then goes on to describe some projects.

RayGen’s PV Ultra System

This paragraph describes the PV Ultra system.

The fully dispatchable power plant would use RayGen’s own technology PV Ultra, which is a combination of photovoltaic (PV) solar generation with the more expensive and engineering-intensive concentrated solar technology using angled mirror towers (heliostats). The PV Ultra system would generate both electricity and heat.

It’s obviously using what Australia has a lot of; sun to advantage.

RayGen’s Innovative Thermal Storage

This paragraph outlines the principle of RayGen’s thermal method of storage.

This generation technology would in turn be co-located and connected to a ‘Thermal Hydro’ energy storage facility, with 17 hours of storage, which again is based on a technology RayGen is developing. Unlike pumped hydro energy storage which uses two reservoirs at different heights, relying on gravity to drive turbines, the Thermal Hydro plant would use a hot reservoir and a cold reservoir, linked together.

The principle of operation is described in this second paragraph.

The PV Ultra solution will therefore cool one reservoir using photovoltaic power and grid power when needed, while also heating the other reservoir using the heliostats. The difference in temperature would then generate electricity, via an Organic Rankine Cycle engine, a device which uses thermodynamic cycles to convert steam into mechanical energy and is widely used for biomass, waste incinerators and other existing generation types.

The article states that an Organic Rankine cycle engine has an efficiency of about seventy percent. I have linked to Wikipedia, which gives a good explanation of the Organic Rankine cycle, which is typically used in waste heat recovery and biomass power plants.

RayGen’s Flagship Project

RayGen’s flagship project will be rated at 4 MW, with a storage capacity of 50 MWh. It will be used to provide power in the West Murray region.

 

New South Wales Community Projects

The article then describes a group of community projects that are being set up in New South Wales.

This is the introductory paragraph

Elsewhere in Australia, the government of New South Wales approved grants earlier this month to assist the development of seven solar projects, all but one of which will include energy storage. Notably, five out of the seven will also be community distributed energy projects, including one standalone shared battery energy storage site.

Some points from the article include.

  • The total solar power is rated at 17.2 MW.
  • The energy storage is rated at 39.2 MWh
  • One site is co-located with hydrogen electrolysis and storage,

New South Wales has certainly launched an ambitious plan.

Conclusion

I like RayGen’s system and the New South Wales initiative.

I also think, that both projects could find applications in some of the hotter places in the world.

Could solar power systems like these solve power supply problems in Africa, India and other sun-rich places>

 

 

March 26, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Glorious Sight In Marks And Spencer In Dalston

I get through almost a dozen bottles of Adnams 0.5% alcohol beer in a week

Marks And Spencer in Dalston has both varieties.

As my body says the beers are gluten-free, I am grateful for small mercies.

But then, I’ve been drinking Adnams since I was about fourteen!

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Food | , , , | 1 Comment

The Death Of The Duke Of Wellington

I used to use this pub occasionally, as it showed football on a large screen and served reasonable gluten-free pizzas.

But it is closed because of COVID-19!

How sad!

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Food, Sport | , | 1 Comment

Why I Don’t Use Virgin Media!

Look at this picture!

Enough said!

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Computing | , | 2 Comments

Government Orders 10,000 Ventilators From Dyson

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

It may seem strange to some, that the government has turned to a vacuum cleaner manufacturer to build high-tech medical equipment for the NHS.

But.

  • Look at the quality of the parts on your Dyson vacuum, where they all fit tightly together.
  • I suspect that some of the principles about air-flow in a vacuum, apply to a ventilator.
  • Advanced manufacturing has progressed a lot in recent years and it should be one of Dyson’s strengths.

The BBC are reporting that Dyson is working with The Technology Partnership, an innovation company based in Cambridge.

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , | 3 Comments

Get Set For Max Return, Says Boeing

The title of this post is the same as this article in The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Boeing is to fire up its 737 Max production line by May as it seeks to return the aircraft to service by the middle of the year.

Two points from the article.

  • Some suppliers have been asked to start shipping parts from April.
  • Boeing’s share price has risen, by 34.3%

But given the shadow over air travel caused by COVID-19, is restarting production a wise move?

I certainly don’t trust the Boeing 737 MAX!

But then if you live in London, I don’t think, you will need to fly in one, as there are a good selection of short haul trains and airlines that fly the smaller Airbuses.

I probably won’t fly short-haul again, until an airline starts flying electric aircraft.

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments