The Anonymous Widower

Bombardier Doesn’t Seem Too Disappointed On Missing Out On The Abellio East Midlands Railway Order

This article on the Derby Telegraph is entitled Derby’s Bombardier Misses Out On Big Contract To Supply Trains For The East Midlands.

This is two paragraphs from the article.

In a statement, Bombardier said: “Bombardier is clearly disappointed that we have not been selected to supply bi-mode trains for the East Midlands franchise.

“We believe we submitted a competitive bid – on technology, strength of product, deliverability and cost, and will seek formal feedback from Abellio.”

There certainly hasn’t been any published threat of legal action.

The Abellio East Midlands Railway Order From Hitachi.

The order placed was as follows.

Thirty-three five-car AT-300 trains.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Four cars have underfloor diesel-engines.
  • 125 mph running.
  • 24 metre cars.
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • Evolution of a Class 802 train.
  • A new nose.

It is a £400 million order.

No Trains For Corby

In How Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Maximise Capacity On The Midland Main Line?, I calculated that the current timetable to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield would need thirty-two trains.

So thirty-three trains would only be enough trains for the bi-mode services to the three Northern termini.

So it looks like Hitachi are not providing any trains for the Corby services! Surely, to have a compatible fleet from one manufacturer would be of an advantage to Abellio East Midlands Railway.

An Ideal Fleet For Corby

Trains between London and Corby take around 70-75 minutes, with a round trip taking three hours.

This means that to run a one train per hour (tph) service to Corby needs three trains and a two tph service will need six trains.

As trains go wrong and also need servicing, I would add at least one spare train, but two is probably preferable.

It would have the following characteristics.

  • All electric.
  • 125 mph running, as they will need to keep out of the way of the Hitachi bi-modes.
  • 240 metres long.
  • A passenger-friendly interior, with loys of tables.
  • Energy efficient

If the last point s to be met, I and many other engineers believe that to save energy, trains must have regenerative braking to batteries on the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I calculated that the kinetic energy of a Class 801 train, with every seat taken was 104.2 kWh

This calculation was performed for a half-length train, so a full electric train for London and Corby would have a kinetic energy of 208.4 kWh, if it was similar to one of Hitachi’s Class 801 train.

The reason the kinetic energy of a train is important, is teat if a train brakes from full speed and has batteries to handle the energy generated by regenerative braking, the batteries must be big enough to handle all the energy.

So a ten-car train similar in capacity and weight to a Class 801 train would need batteries capable of handling 208.4 kWh.

I’ll give a simple example.

A train similar to a Class 801, is full and running using electrification at 125 mph. It is approaching a station, where it will stop.

  • The train’s computer knows the mass and velocity of the train at all times and hence the kinetic energy can be calculated.
  • The train’s computer will constantly manage the train’s electricity supply, so that the batteries always have sufficient capacity to store any energy generated by braking.
  • As the train brakes, the energy generated will be stored in the batteries.
  • As the train moves away from the station, the train’s computer will use energy from the overhead electrification or batteries to accelerate the train.

Energy will constantly be recycled between the traction motors and the batteries.

I don’t know what battery capacity would be needed, but in my experience, perhaps between 300-400 kWh would be enough.

Any better figures, gratefully accepted.

When you consider that the battery in a Tesla car is around 60-70 kWh, I don’t think, there’ll be too much trouble putting enough battery power underneath a ten-car train.

Onward To Melton Mowbray

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for services to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

  • After electrification of the Corby route there will continue to be direct service each way between London and Oakham and Melton Mowbray once each weekday, via Corby.
  • This will be operated with brand new 125mph trains when these are introduced from April 2022.

This seems to be a very acceptable minimum position.

Surely, in a real world driven by marketing and finance and more and more passengers wanting to travel regularly by train to places like London, Luton Airport and Leicester, there will come a time, when an hourly service on this route is needed.

Could a Corby service be extended to Melton Mowbray using battery power, at perhaps a slower speed of 90 mph?

Accelerating away from Corby, the train would need 108 kWh of energy to get to 90 mph with a full train.

  • There would be a continuation of the electrification for perhaps a couple of hundred metres after Corby station.
  • The train would probably leave Corby with a full battery, which would have been charged on the journey from London.

Once at cruising speed, the train would need energy to maintain line speed and provide hotel power.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated the figure for some high-speed trains.

This was my conclusion.

In future for the energy use of a train running at 125 mph, I shall use a figure of three kWh per vehicle mile.

So I will use that figure, although I suspect the real figure could be lower.

I will also assume.

  • Corby to Melton Mowbray is 26.8 miles.
  • It’s a ten-car train.
  • Regenerative braking is seventy percent efficient.
  • The train is running at 90 mph, between Cotby and Melton Mowbray, with an energy of 108 kWh

Energy use on a round trip between Corby and Melton Mowbray, would be as follows.

  • Accelerating at Corby – 108 kWh – Electrification
  • Stop at Oakham – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Corby to Melton Mowbray – 804 kWh – Battery
  • Stop at Melton Mowbray – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Stop at Oakham – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Melton Mowbray to Corby – 804 kWh – Battery

This gives a total of 1705.2 kWh

The battery energy need gets a lot more relaxed, if there is a charging station at Melton Mowbray, as the train will start the return journey with a full battery.

Energy use from Corby to Melton Mowbray would be as follows.

  • Accelerating at Corby – 108 kWh – Electrification
  • Stop at Oakham – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Corby to Melton Mowbray – 804 kWh – Battery

This gives a total of 836.4 kWh.

Energy use from Melton Mowbray to Corby would be as follows.

  • Accelerating at Melton Mowbray- 108 kWh – Battery
  • Stop at Oakham – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Melton Mowbray to Corby – 804 kWh – Battery

This gives a total of 944.4 kWh.

The intriguing fact, is that if you needed a train to go out and back from Corby to Melton Mowbray, it needs a battery twice the size of one needed, if you can charge the train at Melton Mowbray., during the stop of several minutes.

Charging The Train

This page on the Furrer and Frey web site, shows a charging station..

It might also be possible to erect a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification. This would also help in accelerating the train to line speed.

This Google Map shows Melton Mowbray station.

It looks to be a station on a large site with more than adequate car parking and I suspect building a bay platform with charging facilities would not be the most difficult of projects.

More Efficient Trains

I also think that with good design electricity use can be reduced from my figure of 3 kWh per vehicle mile and the regenerative braking efficiency can be increased.

Obviously, the more efficient the train, the greater the range for a given size of battery.

Onward To Leicester

If the train service can be extended  by the 26.8 miles between Corby and Melton Mowbray, I wonder if the electric service can be extended to Leicester.

Under current plans the Northern end of the electrification will be Market Harborough.

In Market Harborough Station – 11th July 2019, I wrote about the station after a visit. In my visit, I notices there were a lot of croaaovers to the North of the station.

As it was a new track alignment, I suspect that they were new.

So is it the interntion to turnback services at Market Harborough or are the crossovers preparation for links to stabling sidings?

It got me asking if battery-electric trains could reach Leicester.

  • Leicester and Market Harborough are only fourteen miles apart.
  • There are no stops in between.
  • Using my three kwH per vehicle mile, this would mean that a ten car train would use 420 kWh between the two stations at 125 mph.

I certainly believe that a Northbound train passing Market Harborough with fully-charged batteries could reach Leicester, if it had an adequate battery of perhaps 700 kWh.

As at Melton Mowbray, there would probably need to be a charging station at Leicester.

The picture shows the station from the Northern bridge.

The platforms shown are the two main lines used by most trains. On the outside are two further lines and one or both could be fitted with a charging station, if that were necessary.

An Example Electric Service Between London And Leicester

If they so wanted, Abellio East Midlands Railway could run 125 mph battery-electric services between London and Leicester.

The Current Timings

The fastest rains go North in around 66-67 minutes and come South in seventy.

So a round trip would take around two and a half hours.

Five trains would be needed for a half-hourly service.

I feel it would be very feasible, if Abellio East Midlands Railway wanted to increase services between London and Leicester, then this could be done with a fleet of zero-carbon battery-electric trains, using battery power between Leicester and Market Harborough.

A Non-Stop London And Leicester Service

I wonder what would be the possible time for an electric express running non-stop between London and Leicester.

  • Currently, some diesel Class 222 trains are timetabled to achieve sixty-two minutes.
  • Linespeed would be 125 mph for much of the route.
  • There is no reason, why the fourteen mile section without electrification North of Market Harborough couldn’t be run at 1235 mph on battery-power, once the track is upgraded to that speed.
  • iIn the future, modern digital signalling, as used by Thameslink, could be applied to the whole route and higher speeds of up to 140 mph may be possible.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a battery-electric train travelling between London and Leicester in fifty minutes before 2030.

A fifty-minute service would result in a two-hour round trip and need just two trains for a frequency of two tph.

It would surely be a marketing man’s dream.

It should be noted that Abellio has form in this area and have introduced Norwich-in-Ninrty services on the slower London and Norwich route.

London And Leicester Via Corby, Oakham And Melton Mowbray

I have been very conservative in my calculations of battery size.

With real data on the terrain, the track profile, the train energy consumption, regenerative braking performance and the passengers, I do wonder, if it would be possible to run on battery power between Corby and Leicester via Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

  • The distance would be 62 miles on battery power.
  • Trains could serve Syston station.
  • Using times of current services London and Leicester would take two hours fifteen minutes.

I suspect it would be possible, but it would be a slow service.

Would These Services Be An Application For Bombardier’s 125 mph Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries?

Could Bombardier’s relaxed reaction to not getting the main order, be because they are going to be building some of their proposed 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries, that will be able to work the following routes?

  • London and Melton Mowbray via Corby and Oakham.
  • London and Leicester via Market Harborough.

But I think that the main emphasis could be on a non-stop high-speed service between London and Leicester.

I have been suspicious that there is more to Bombardier’s proposed train than they have disclosed and wrote Is Bombardier’s 125 mph Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, A 125 mph Battery-Electric Aventra With Added Diesel Power To Extend The Range?

Since I wrote that article, my view that Bombardier’s train is a battery-electric one, with diesel power to extend the range, has hardened.

These Midland Main Line trains will run in two separate modes.

  • On the Southern electrified sections, the trains will be 125 mph electric trains using batteries for regenerative braking, energy efficiency and emergency power in the case of overhead line failure..
  • On the Northern sections without electrification,the trains will be battery-electric trains running at the maximum line-speed possible, which will be 125 mph on Leicester services.

There will be an optimum battery size, which will give the train the required performance.

Is there any need for any diesel engines?

Quite frankly! No! As why would you lug something around that you only need for charging the batteries and perhaps overhead supply failure?

  • Batteries would only need to be charged at the Northern end of the routes. So use a chasrging station, if one is needed!
  • Batteries can handle overhead supply failure, automatically.

Who needs bi-modes?

How Big Would The Batteries Need To Be?

A full train would have a kinetic energy of around 200 kWh and I said this about battery capacity for handling the energy from regenerastive braking.

I don’t know what battery capacity would be needed, but in my experience, perhaps between 300-400 kWh would be enough.

Any better figures, gratefully accepted.

To handle Corby to Melton Mowbray and back, I estimated that 1,800 kWh would be needed, but if the train had a top-up at Melton Mowbray a capacity of 1,000 kWh would be sufficient.

Pushed, I would say, that a battery capacity of 2,000 kWh would be sufficient to run both routes without a charging station, at the Northern end.

I also believe the following will happen.

  • Trains will get more efficient and leighter in weight.
  • Batteries will increase their energy density.
  • Charging stations will charge trains faster.
  • Battery costs will fall.

This would mean that larger battery capacities can be achieved without the current weight and cost penalty and the achievable range after the end of the wires will increase.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see ranges of over fifty miles in a few years, which with a charging station at the destination, means battery-electric trains could venture fifty miles from an electrified line.

A few other suggested routes.

  • Ashford and Southampton
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • Carliswle and Newcastle
  • Doncaster and Peterborough via Lincoln (CS)
  • Edinburgh and Tweedbank (CS)
  • London Euston and Chester
  • London St. Pancras and Hastings
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury (CS)
  • Manchester and Sheffield (CS)
  • Norwich and Nottingham (CS)
  • York and Hull via Scarborough (CS)

Note.

  1. Stations marked (CS) would need a charging station.
  2. Some routes would only need 100 mph trains.

I think that a 125 mph battery train will have a big future.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that Bombardier are right to be not too disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Battery Answer To Schleswig-Holstein’s Diesel Replacement Question

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

It is a good explanation of why there is so much interest in battery-powered trains.

This paragraph from the article, describes how the trains will operate in Schleswig-Holstein.

They will have range of 150 km under optimal conditions, although the longest non-electrified route they will operate on is around 80 km. The batteries will be recharged from the existing 15 kV 16·7 Hz overhead electrification at Kiel, Neumünster, Flensburg, Lübeck and Lüneburg stations and on the Osterrönfeld – Jübek line. Charging facilities will also be provided in other locations, and there will be some extensions to the existing overhead power supply.

Consider.

  • These trains can run on routes of up to eighty kilometres or around fifty miles.
  • Greater Anglia and Transport for Wales will be running the UK versions of the Stadler Flirts, that will be used in Schleswig-Holstein.
  • Transport for Wales will also be running a tri-mode Flirt with electric, diesel and battery power.
  • The Continental loading gauge, probably allows more batteries than the smaller UK loading gauge.

I think it could be reasonable to assume, that a UK-sized  battery-electric Stadler Flirt could have a range of forty miles on batteries.

These could be possible routes for Greater Anglia.

  • Norwich and Sheringham – 30 miles
  • Norwich and Lowestoft – 23.5 miles
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth – 18 miles
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe – 16 miles
  • Colchester Town and Sudbury – 20 miles

In addition some partially-electrified routes have gaps less than forty miles. Think Cambridge and Ipswich!

I would not be surprised to see battery trains, quietly gliding around East Anglia.

Would they attract passengers and tourists?

Perhaps Germany and Stadler will give us the Schleswig-Holstein Answer, which will be much more interesting than the Schleswig-Holstein Question.

Economics Of Battery Trains

The article also has this quote from the CEO of Stadler Germany about the economics of battery trains.

It makes us very proud that with the battery-powered Flirt we have not only managed to find an ecological and innovative solution, but have also enabled a clear economic improvement. If we consider the average life of a rail vehicle of around 30 years, battery-operated vehicles are more cost-effective than diesel’.

I think it can also be said, that battery technology will improve continuously in the next thirty years and we should see a corresponding improvement in range and performance.

You don’t get that with diesel.

Hydrogen Or Battery Power?

I would think that Alstom are not happy about this order for battery-powered trains.

  • Only a hundred kilometres or so to the West, they are supplying Alstom Coradia iLint trains for a similar network.
  • These trains are working well.
  • They have teamed up with Linde to supply the hydrogen.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Schleswig-Holstein had chosen hydrogen trains.

So why did Schleswig-Holstein, choose battery rather than hydrogen trains?

  • Provided, the driver or a computer, raises and lowers the pantograph appropriately, there is no difference between an electric train and its battery-electric sibling.
  • Systems to charge battery trains can be installed anywhere, there is an electricity supply.
  • The electricity supply could be local wind or solar.
  • Charging battery trains could be automatic and require no more action from the driver, than checking everything is as it should be and perhaps pushing a button or two. On a bleak miserable day, the driver would remain in the warm and comfortable cab.
  • Hydrogen would need to be loaded on the train at a depot or another place with the necessary safety clearance.
  • The iLint seats 160 and the Flirt Akku seats 124, so I suspect capacity isn’t much of a problem.
  • The Flirt Akku is a train designed for battery-electric operation, whereas the iLint is a modified diesel train, with a noisy and harsh mechanical transmission. It’s like comparing Class 710 trains, with their predecessors on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line; the Class 172 trains.
  • I suspect most Germans have talked to a relative or older person, who remembers the Hindenburg.

There is probably little to choose between the two trains, but I believe that the operation of the hydrogen-powered train will be more complicated.

I also don’t know the cost of each train.

As I said earlier, Stadler claim long-term ownership of battery-powered trains is more economic than diesel. Does the same apply to battery against hydrogen power.

Conclusion

I believe we’ll see lots more battery trains.

 

 

 

 

July 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Airport Plans World’s Biggest Car Parks For 50,000 Cars

The title of this post, is the same as that of an asricle in Wednesday’s copy of The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The biggest car parks in the world will be built as part of a £14 billion expansion of Heathrow amid fresh claims that the scheme will be an “environmental disaster”.

Parking for almost 53,000 vehicles will be built as part of a 30-year masterplan, even though the airport insists that expansion can be achieved without any extra cars on the road.

This sounds to be contradictory, as why would you need to build extra car parking, if there were no more extra cars on the road?

Perhaps there is a clue later in the article, where this is is a paragraph.

Heathrow said that the overall number of parking spaces would “not change materially from today”, insisting that spaces were simply being consolidated on bigger sites. It pointed out that car parks would allow for 100 per cent electric vehicle usage in the future. In total, the number of parking spaces, including those for staff and spaces at nearby offices, will grow from 64,000 today to 67,000.

Admittedly, it only says allow, but Heathrow are future-proofing themselves for the day when everyone is driving electric cars.

Heathrow and others are also planning to do the following.

  • Charge a congestion charge of up to £15 a day will be imposed by 2026 to dissuade passengers from travelling to the airport by car.
  • A “green loop” — a 12-mile pedestrian and cycle network — will also circle the airport.
  • Finish Crossrail.
  • Improve Heathrow Express.
  • There will be a rail link to Reading.
  • There will be a second rail link to Waterloo via Clapham Junction.
  • There will be a rail link to Basingstoke, Guildford and Woking, possibly by extending Heathrow Express.

Will these measures nudge travellers in one of two positive directions?

  • Using public transport to get to the Airport.
  • Cycling or working to the airport.
  • Using an electric car to get to and from the Airport.

I am a Control Engineer, who spent a working life of nearly fifty years analysing data and doing mathematical calculations, hopefully to improve little bits of the world.

So what would I do?

It is absolutely essential that it is known, where all the vehicles to the airport are travelling to and from.

No-one is going to get out of their car, if there is no creditable alternative

The ultimate aim must be that, all transport within a certain distance of the Airport must be zero carbon.

  • All vehicles used by travellers and workers to get to and from the Airport.
  • All vehicles bringing supplies to the Airport.
  • All airside vehicles.

What will happen to those that lived in the zone?

This Google Map shows Hanwell Village to the South-West of the Airport.

Will all those residents pay the congestion charge?

But suppose Heathrow could get ninety percent of all cars travelling to  the Airport and using the car parks, to be electric vehicles.

This would be 45,000 vehicles, each with a battery of between 40-60 kWh. Let’s call it, 50 kWh.

This would mean that the total of energy storage on a typical day at the Airport would be 2.25 GWh.

Compare that to the 9.1 GWh capacity of Electric Mountain.

Electric Mountain would be bigger, but intelligent control of the batteries of these electric cars could create a massive electricity storage resource at the Airport.

  • Cars would be connected to a two-way charger, when the driver went about their business at the Airport, after telling the car when they would return.
  • On return to the car, it would have enough charge for the next journey.
  • The driver would also have an app on their phone, so they could alter their return times.
  • Whilst the driver was away, the grid would borrow electricity as required.

The grid might even pay for the use of your battery.

I suspect that all car parks for electric cars will work using something like this model.

Note the following calculation.

In December 2018, there were 31.5 million cars and four million light goods vehicles in the UK.

In a few years time, suppose half of these vehicles are electric with a 20 KWh battery.

That works out at an astronomical 355 GWh or nearly forty Electric Mountains.

  • Electric Mountain cost £425 million in 1984.
  • Applying a web inflation calculator means it would cost around £1350 million today.
  • So forty Electric Mountains would cost £54 billion.

That is a lot of money and we have no place to put them.

But we have this massive storage capability in the millions of electric vehicles, that will be on the roads in a few years.

Conclusion

All future large car parks must be built to be large storage batteries, when drivers plug in their electric cars.

If you were to be paid for the use of your car’s battery, would that ease the exense of owning an electric car?

 

 

 

June 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Alice Promises Passengers A Pollution-Free Wonderland

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

The Eviation Alice is a composite battery-electric aircraft, that has just been ordered by Cape-Air, who are based in Barnstaple, Massachusetts..

Currently, Cape-Air flies the following fleet of aircraft.

In addition, a hundred Tecnam P2012 Traveller are on order, which seat nine passengers.They will replace the Cessnas.

The specification of the Tecnam P2012 Traveller, was developed with input from Cape-Air,

  • Two Avco Lycoming piston engines.
  • 190 knot cruising speed.
  • Range of 950 nautical miles
  • Full certification.
  • Large passenger door.
  • Suitable for commuter, air taxi, medevac, troop transport and air cargo roles.
  • iSingle-pilot operations, a modern cockpit, an unpressurised cabin and a metal air-frame.
  • High -wing for visibility
  • Fixed landing gear for operation from rough landing strips.

It appears the Italians have designed a modern Islander.

This leads me to the impression, that the commuter airline operator are experienced, conservative and know what they want.

On the other hand, Cape-Air have just ordered ten Eviation Alice aircraft for air-taxi operations.

  • Nine passengers and two crew
  • Three 260 kW electric motors
  • 900 kWh Li-ion battery
  • 260 knot cruising speed.
  • Range of 565 nautical miles.
  • 95% composite air-frame.
  • Fly-by-wire control
  • Unpressurised cabin.
  • Retractable landing gear.
  • Automatic landing.

It is not a conventional aircraft.

If you want to learn more, this article on Aviation International News, which is entitled Eviation’s Alice To Fly This Year, gives a lot more details.

These are a few points.

Aerodynamic Design

It is to be expected,  that the composite structure has created a very aserodynamic design.

Battery Weight

The battery comprises sixty per cent of the weight of the aircraft.

Battery Charging

The Aviation International News article says this about charging.

The battery system on the Alice will be fully rechargeable in one hour and 10 minutes, using a half-megawatt charger on a mobile “bowser” truck that itself is charged up by plugging into the local electrical grid. This avoids having to build charging stations at airports, he said. Not all routes will require a full charge—the basic ratio is a half hour of charging time per hour of flight.

Given the 1:2 ratio between charging time and flight time, I suspect that Eviation are using similar tricks to those used by Vivarail with battery trains, that I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Landing Gear

Once the passengers and their luggage are on board, the weight of an electric plane will not change until the passengers disembark.

I suspect this gives advantages in the design of the landing gear, as it probably cycles through a narrower range of stresses, than the gear on a conventionally-powered plane.

Engine Failure

Engine failure in a twin-engined aircraft is every pilot’s nightmare and speaking from experience, there is no better moment in a flight in a piston-engined twin, than when the gear is raised and the plane is safely in the climb.

The Aviation International News article says this about controlling engine failures.

If power is lost in one wingtip-motor, the opposite motor will reduce power to prevent asymmetric thrust from causing a loss of control, while the rear motor can provide enough power to keep the Alice flying. In fact, Alice can continue a takeoff with loss of both tip thrusters at V2, according to Bar-Yohay.

This is how computer control should be used.

Take-Off And Landing Distance

The specification foe the Eiviation Alice,  does not give the take-off and landing distances, but it does give the approach speed as 100 knots.

The Eiviation Alice is replacing Cessna 401 aircraft at Cape-Air, so it must have a better performance.

The figures for the Cessna are.

Until, I’m told otherwise, I suspect that the Eviation Alice could use most seven-hundred metre runways, with a good surface.

Take Off Accidents

A lot of air accidents happen on take-off, when the plane is fully loaded with passengers and fuel and the engines are giving out maximum power. If the plane should crash, there is usually a large fire.

There have been fires in lithium=ion batteries in the past, but you don’t hear of hundreds of electric cars going up in smoke.

I would certainly like to see what Eviation are saying about the performance of Alice aircraft in an abandoned take-off, or one where an aircraft hits something large, that shouldn’t be there,  on the runway,. Thankfully, the latter doesn’t happen often, but read about the Tenerife Airport Disaster in 1977.

Fly-By-Wire

Fly-by-wire would not normally be expected on an aircraft of this size. But the Aviation Internation News article says the following.

  • The propellers can be managed using pitch and rpm to reduce noise.
  • Turbulence can be smoothed out.
  • Differential thrust can be applied to the two wing engines for crosswind landings.
  • The battery system can be fully controlled in sixteen strands to bring a high level of redundancy.
  • Autoland can be added.

This is a commuter aircraft with all the flight control features of a full size airliner, that has been designed to be flown by a dumb well-programmed computer.

Those that have designed advanced fighter aircraft would certainly approve.

Happy Landings

In the Wikpedia entry for the Eviation Alice, this is said.

It will be built with existing technology, including a composite airframe, distributed propulsion with Siemens electric engines and Honeywell flight control systems, including automatic landing.

The approach speed is also stated on the plane’s specification to be a very reasonable and pilot-friendly; 100 knots.

Once, I flew an approach in a Piper Arrow into Dublin Airport faster than 100 knots as Air Traffic Control, said there was a Jumbo on my tail and could I hurry up! They then asked if I could clear the runway fast, which I did, to be greeted by “We’ll give you ten out of ten for that!” The Irish are gloriously different!

Under Fly-By-Wire, I said this was possible.

Differential thrust can be applied to the two wing engines for crosswind landings.

This I like, as I was not good at crosswind landings.

Once, I landed my Cessna 340 in very heavy rain and strong crosswinds at Cardiff Airport. I landed safely, but it was lucky I was wearing appropriately-coloured underwear.

Cost Of Ownership And Operation

The Aviation International News article gives full details.

The Future

The one thing that can be said about the design of electric planes, is that the batteries will hold more power for a given weight in a few years.

In addition.

  • Composite structures will get lighter and stronger.
  • Aerodynamics of the air-frame and the propellers will get better and more efficient.
  • Fly-by-wire will use better algorithms and add more features.

Range and/or payload will increase.

I also think that, if they can be almost silent, then they could fly very different routes and perhaps even use runways reserved for electric aircraft.

Conclusion

This project might appear to be a total fantasy, but having flown over a thousand hours in a small twin-engined aircraft, I can see where Eviation are coming from.

  • They have also convinced Cape-Air, top class suppliers like BendixKing, Hartzell, Honeywell and Siemens to be part of the project.
  • If nothing else, Eviation have proven, that they can design and build a nine-seat commuter aircraft.

I feel, I can look forward one day to flying in an electric aircraft. Even if it is not the Eviation Alice.

Aircraft like Alice will revolutionise aviation, for distances up to perhaps two thousand miles.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

Toshiba Unveils Tri-Mode Locomotive Demonstrator

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Toshiba Railway Europe unveiled a electric-diesel-battery hybrid traction technology demonstrator locomotive at the Transport Logistic trade show in München on June 4.

The company has a contract to supply 50 diesel-battery centre cab locomotives to DB Cargo from 2021, TRE Managing Director Hinrich Krey told Railway Gazette. The demonstrator is intended to showcase the company’s design work to date as well as highlighting future development options.

It is based on the frame and bogies of a heavy shunting locomotive.

  • There are two MAN 471 kW gensets.
  • The diesel engines are compatible with EU Stage V emissions regulations.
  • There are two SCiB 62 kWh lithium titanate oxide traction batteries.
  • Battery life is quoted as up to ten years.
  • The design is modular, so that a diesel engine can be replaced with another battery pack.
  • A pantograph working with common European voltages can provide electric power.

The locomotive is aimed at heavy shunting and light freight.

Conclusion

The power of the locomotive is probably about 1MW, which is less than half the power of a Class 66 locomotive. But locomotives like the Class 66 are often used for tasks, where a smaller locomotive could do an excellent job.

The low pollution of the Toshiba locomotive probably means it could work in sensitive areas or close to a workforce.

The locomotive appears to be a well-designed locomotive for an important niche market.

If this design and others like the Stadler Class 93 locomotive succeed it will lead nearer to the ultimate goal of a high performance heavy freight zero-carbon locomotive to replace the polluting diesel locomotives, that are so common on the railways of the world.

June 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Better Storage Might Give Hydrogen The Edge As Renewable Car Fuel

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on an Australian blog called Create.

This paragraph summarises the article.

Professor David Antonelli from Lancaster University has recently discovered a material that he says could allow existing tank sizes to fuel four times their current range.

Take the time to read the article in full!

If this is developed successfully, then coupled to improved battery technology, that will surely increase the practical range of hybrid hydrogen-battery cars, trucks, buses and trains.

Whilst politicians vanish up their backsides discussing the irrelevant Brexit, engineers and scientists will get on developing ideas, that will make everybody’s lives better.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

UK Listed Energy Storage Fund Seeks 182MW Battery Project Pipeline

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

This is the first paragraph.

UK investment management firm Gresham House has confirmed it is to launch a fresh fund raising drive as it sets its sights on a new, 182MW pipeline of battery storage projects.

It is my belief as a Control Engineer, that if we move to renewable energy, like geothermal, hydro, solar, tidal, wave and wind, that the generating capacity must be backed up with large massive of energy storage.

  • The energy storage captures excess electricity when nobody needs to use it and feeds it back when consumption exceeds supply.
  • I suspect that the National Grid have done extensive simulations of the UK’s energy needs and that they have a model of how much energy storage is needed to support particular mixes and capacities of renewable energy.
  • Most of the storage will be lithium-ion or perhaps some of the newer developments, that are creeping into the renewable dictionary.
  • The cost of storage, its working life and performance must be well-known, which means that the investors can get a return, that satisfies their needs to fund pensions and insurance policies.

So it would appear that Gresham House have done their sums and come up with a mathematical model, where all are winners.

  • UK industry and consumers get enough electricity for their needs.
  • Insurance companies and pension funds get a return to fulfil their contractual commitments.
  • UK pensioners get a reliable pension.
  • UK taxpayers don’t have to fund the much-needed energy storage.
  • Our electricity will increasingly be generated by renewables.
  • I do suspect that Gresham House will take an appropriate fee.

There may even be an opportunity for the public to invest directly in the future.

For all these winners, there will be losers.

  • Oil companies. In Writing On The Wall For Oil Say Funds, I wrote about the opinion of fund managers on oil companies.
  • Despots, dictators and religious maniacs, who control much of the world’s oil resources.

I shall cry not one tear for the second group!

I’ll be very interested to see the way that these energy storage funds develop!

Conclusion

These funds will develop in parallel with renewable energy and the energy storage it needs.

As the demand for energy storage will grow significantly, these funds will grow as well to provide the capacity needed to keep the lights on.

 

 

April 30, 2019 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains

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

A few points from the article.

  • Class 230 trains running on battery power have a range of sixty miles.
  • Fully charging the train takes seven minutes.
  • Short lengths of third and fourth-rail are used.
  • Power is provided from a battery bank, which is trickle charged.

I feel this paragraph describes the key feature.

The automatic technique utilises a carbon ceramic shoe, which is capable of withstanding the significant amount of heat generated during the process.

The article finishes with a quote from Vivarail CEO Adrian Shooter.

I know how important it is to the public and the industry as a whole to phase out diesel units and our battery train is paving the way for that to take place today not tomorrow.

Consider.

  • Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens and Stadler have built or are building third-rail powered trains for the UK.
  • Bombardier, Porterbrook and Stadler are developing battery-powered trains for the UK.
  • Trickle-charging of the secondary batteries could be performed by mains power or a local renewable source like wind or solar.
  • Control electronics can make this a very safe system, with low risk of anybody being hurt from the electrical systems.

I’ve said it before, but I think that Vivarail may have some very important technology here.

If I have a worry, it is that unscrupulous companies and countries will probably find a way round any patent.

 

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

An Automated Shuttle Train On The Slough-Windsor & Eton Line

The Slough-Windsor & Eton Line has the following features.

  • It is 2.5 miles long.
  • It is single-track.
  • It is not electrified
  • Trains on the route are two- or three-car diesel trains.
  • There is a single platform station at either end with no intermediate stations.
  • The service frequency is three tph.
  • Trains take six minutes to go between the two terminals.

The service on this line, can get exceedingly full and needs greater capacity.

To run the ideal four tph, trains would need do a round trip between Slough and Windsor & Eton Central in fifteen minutes.

If we assume that the two end stops take a total of three minutes, then that leaves just twelve minutes to cover the five miles of the round trip.

This is an average speed of 25 mph.

As with the Greenford Branch, I think that an appropriate train would be able to run an automated shuttle, with a frequency of four tph.

The train (or tram-train) would have the following features.

  • It would be battery-powered
  • It would have an operating speed of perhaps fifty mph.
  • It would have fast acceleration and deceleration.
  • It would have three- or four-cars.

The only infrastructure works that would be needed, would be to provide a fast charging station at Slough station.

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Would Batteries Help Voltage Change-over In A Dual Voltage Train Or Tram-Train?

Battery Power And Tram-Trains

Consider.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains in Sheffield can work on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Their German cousins in Karlsruhe can work on both 15 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead electrification.

In Karlsruhe, there is a ceramic rod between the two overhead cables with different voltages and the pantograph rides across. I suspect that clever power  electronics on the tram-train measures the voltage and converts it automatically to that needed to power the tram-train.

I haven’t been able to see how Sheffield connects the two different voltages, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar system with a ceramic rod is used.

Look at this picture, I took of a Class 399 tram-train in Sheffield.

 

Note the BATTERY CHARGE socket to the left of the car number.

Why would an electrically-powered vehicle need a battery?

I suppose it could be to start up the tram-train in the morning and raise the pantograph.

But could it also be for emergency power, to move the tram-train short distances, such as in depots or to assist the vehicle through the dead sections, where the power supply changes from one voltage to another?

The Class 399 tram-trains ordered for the South Wales Metro will also have to cope with discontinuous electrification. So is the technology needed for this already installed in the tram-trains in Sheffield?

Battery Power And Dual Voltage Trains

Suppose you have a train like a Class 378 or Class 700 train, that can run on both 25 KVAC overhead  and 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

Third-rail trains with contact shoes deal with discontinuous electrification all the time.

If a dual-voltage train had a battery that could take it say two hundred metres, then I believe that voltage changeover could be simplified and speeded up.

I have watched Class 717 trains change voltage at Drayton Park station and what changes would a limited battery capability make.

The third-rail electrification would stop several metres short of the station and would be removed in the station itself.

Going towards Moorgate, this would be the procedure.

  • The train would stop in the station as it does now.
  • The driver would drop the pantograph, whilst passengers unloaded and loaded.
  • The driver would close the doors.
  • The train would accelerate away on battery power.
  • After a few metres the train would contact the third-rail and the train’s computer would change from battery to third-rail power.

Going away from Moorgate, this would be the procedure.

  • The train would automatically disconnect from third-rail power, where that stopped to the South of the station.
  • The train would automatically switch to battery power.
  • The train  would stop in the station as it does now.
  • The driver would raise the pantograph, whilst passengers unloaded and loaded.
  • The driver would close the doors.
  • The train would accelerate away on overhead power.

The stops should be no longer, than a normal station stop without power changeover.

Conclusion

Batteries may well reduce the time taken to change voltage

 

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments