The Anonymous Widower

Northern Ireland Spends £100m On Clean Buses

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

If Wrightbus can’t rely on the Northern Irish government to buy their buses, who can they?

November 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Wrightbus Presents Electric & Fuel Cell Single-Decker Buses

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

This is the first paragraph.

The Northern Irish bus manufacturer Wrightbus is introducing a new single-deck bus with battery and fuel cell propulsion. The new models of the GB Kite series in the Hydroliner FCEV and Electroliner BEV variants can each accommodate up to 90 passengers and are scheduled to go into series production in 2022.

This means that Wrightbus now have single and double-deck zero emission buses with both battery and fuel cell propulsion.

These are my thoughts.

High Commonality

There may be four different buses, but they have a surprising amount in common.

In this press release on the Wrightbus web site, which is entitled Wrightbus To Showcase Two New Zero-Emission Buses, there is this paragraph.

Both buses share an 86% parts commonality with their Double Deck sisters which delivers significant benefits to operators in terms of reducing complexity and costs for fleet maintenance.

Vehicle manufacturers have been looking for high commonality for many decades and it is amazing that Wrightbus have achieved such a figure.

We mustn’t forget the advantages, Wrightbus will get from such commonality in terms of production, product support and the supply of parts and sub assemblies.

Passenger Capacity

The passenger capacity of the four buses are as follows.

  • Double-decker – Hydrogen  – 86
  • Double-decker – Battery – 95
  • Single-decker – Hydrogen  – 90
  • Single-decker – Battery – 90

Note.

  1. These figures come from the Wrightbus web site.
  2. The site says that the figures for the single-decker buses depend on bus length and specification.

Does the similar capacity of all the buses give operators more flexibility?

Range

The range of the four buses are as follows.

  • Double-decker – Hydrogen  – 350 miles
  • Double-decker – Battery – 200 miles
  • Single-decker – Hydrogen  – 640 miles
  • Single-decker – Battery – 300 miles

Note.

  1. These figures come from the Wrightbus web site or the press release for the new single-deck buses.
  2. These ranges are claimed by Wrightbus as best-in-class.
  3. But surely the range of 640 miles for a single-deck zero-carbon hydrogen bus opens up some interesting and unusual routes.
  4. Single-deck buses appear to have a longer range than their double-deck sisters.

There is also a degree of battery size flexibility in the battery-electric buses to suit an operator’s routes.

Single-deck battery-electric buses are available with these battery sizes and charging times.

  • 340kWh – 2 ½ hours @ 150kW
  • 454kWh – 3 hours @ 150kW
  • 567kWh – 3 ½ hours @ 150kW

And these are the figures for the double-deck battery-electric buses.

  • 340kWh – 2 ½ hours @ 150kW
  • 454kWh – 3 hours @ 150kW

Note.

  1. Both single- and double-deck buses can use the two smaller batteries.
  2. I would assume that they are similar and it’s all part of the commonality.
  3. Both buses can also be fitted with a pantograph to charge the batteries, when the routes present an opportunity.

Could the largest battery be fitted to the double-deck bus? Perhaps at some point, but I suspect, that currently, a weight limitation applies.

The Fuel Cell

This sentence from the Electrive article, describes the fuel cell system of the hydrogen bus.

The fuel cell solo bus model is very similar in design. Instead of the pure BEV drive, the GB Kite Hydroliner FCEV has a Ballard FCmove fuel cell with 70 kW or 100 kW and a small supplementary battery with 30 or 45 kWh on board.

It appears, there is flexibility in the power.

Forsee Batteries From France

This paragraph from the Electrive article, talks about the batteries.

Incidentally, Forsee Power is acting as the supplier of the batteries for the BEV buses. The Bamford Group, new parent of Wrightbus, had extended the partnership with the French battery manufacturer in October 2020 with a new contract for several hundred battery systems per year. Forsee Power announced the introduction of extra-thin battery modules earlier this year and directly named Wrightbus as the launch customer for the modules of the new Slim series. Whether these batteries are now already being installed in the two Electroliners is not specified. However, the high storage capacity of the 567-kWh top battery leads us to assume this, at least for the solo bus model.

Forsee’s slimline batteries seem a major advance in the powering of vehicles like buses.

It certainly looks like extra-thin is beautiful, where batteries are concerned.

Conclusion

This is a formidable line-up of four zero-carbon buses, that can be tailored to an operator’s needs.

When linked tom Jo Bamford’s company; FUZE, which I wrote about in New Company Established To Help Transition Bus Fleets To Hydrogen, Bamford’s deck of cards look even stronger.

Will Jo Bamford do for the bus industry, what his grandfather did for diggers? I wouldn’t bet against it!

 

 

September 24, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Company Established To Help Transition Bus Fleets To Hydrogen

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2 View.

These first two paragraphs describe the company.

A new asset financed company has been launched to help design, deliver, and finance the seamless transition to a zero-emissions bus fleet with hydrogen included.

Launched by Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford today (August 9), FUZE will support the energy transition to cleaner variants by offering packages that enable the transition to hydrogen or electric fleets of buses.

If Jo Bamford gets this right, it could certainly smooth the transition to hydrogen and electric buses, where bus companies will be introducing new technology.

The words asset-based make me think, that buses, fuelling systems and chargers could all be hired on a bus-by-the-hour basis in much the same way train manufacturing companies like Hitachi and Stadler supply trains to the train operating companies.

The manufacturers are contracted to supply so many trains each day and if there are reliability or availability problems, then they must compensate the operators. That model would surely work with buses.

  • I also suspect the model would allow flexibility, as to the choice of either an electric or hydrogen bus.
  • I also think, that the model would be able to provide short-term deals for large events and Rail Replacement services.
  • Buses no longer needed could also be returned, repainted and hired by another operator.
  • FUZE could also have a standby fleet, so any bus operator wanting to try hydrogen buses for a month, could enter into a short-term deal.

I also think that this new generation of buses can open up innovative ideas for bus use. In Three Hydrogen Double Decker Buses Set For Dublin, I describe how Dublin will use just three hydrogen buses to create a fast commuter route.

Conclusion

I like it!

Short Term Hire Of Buses

I have a feeling that if say you wanted to hire a small fleet of buses for say a festival like Glastonbury, that hydrogen buses could be the better bet.

Suppose you wanted to run a fleet of five buses to and from the car park at the nearest rail station.

  • Feeding the chargers for five buses will need a substantial electricity feed.
  • Hydrogen buses can be refuelled from a mobile fuelling station.
  • Hydrogen buses can probably run all day on one refuelling.

The ease of refuelling would appear to favour the hydrogen bus.

 

August 10, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Wrightbus Presents Their First Battery-Electric Bus

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

This is the first paragraph.

The Northern Irish bus manufacturer Wrightbus presents its first battery-electric vehicle in its portfolio: a double-decker bus called StreetDeck Electroliner. Until now, the Northern Irish manufacturer has been known primarily for its hydrogen-powered buses.

In My First Ride In A Hydrogen-Powered Double-Deck Bus, I rode in a Wrightbus StreetDeck Hydroliner FCEV, so these pictures of that bus, will at least show the external style of the StreetDeck Electroliner BEV.

These two links show the web page for each product on the Wrightbus web site.

Wrightbus StreetDeck Electroliner BEV

Wrightbus StreetDeck Hydroliner FCEV

Wrightbus on their web page announce the Electroliner with a headline of The Electric Bus Perfected.

This is the first paragraph of the web page.

Meet the electric bus from the future of environmentally friendly transport. Our StreetDeck Electroliner is built with features to inspire the next wave of electric transport including best in class range to cover most duty cycles, modern passenger-focused amenities, best in class charge time, and many more. Making every kilometer a new sustainability milestone.

These are some features of the bus, gleaned from Wrightbus web page and the electrive article.

Battery Power

The Wrightbus web page says this about the batteries.

StreetDeck Electroliner’s maximum power from a 454kW zero-emission battery electric powertrain is the highest battery capacity for a UK Double Deck bus. It powers it to a leading range of up to 200 miles and a fast charge time of just 2.5 hours ensures longer journeys with fewer refueling breaks. Our commitment to greener transport is also strengthened with an optional 8-year battery warranty.

Note.

  1. On the Wrightbus web page, a cutaway drawing appears to show batteries everywhere.
  2. Reading the Wrightbus web page, the specification says that there are two battery sizes available; 340 kWh and 454 kWh.

They certainly seem to have all angles covered with batteries.

According to the electrive article, the StreetDeck Electroliner uses slim batteries from French company; Forsee Power.

On their web site, there is a paragraph, which is entitled Wrightbus Will Integrate ZEN SLIM Batteries, where this is said.

As part of its exclusive supplier partnership with Wrightbus, Forsee Power will supply Wrightbus with the new ZEN SLIM batteries, whose extra flat format allows easy integration into the chassis of vehicles (standard or double-decker buses).

Each bus will be equipped with three battery systems up to 340 kWh and an extension including a fourth system will also be possible, providing exceptional capacity of 432 kWh and a battery range of more than 350 kilometers.

The figure of 432 kWh does not fit with the Wrightbus specification and is not 340*4/3, so I suspect the Forsee web site is a couple of figures out of date.

The Forsee brochure for the ZEN SLIM batteries gives an energy density of 166 Wh per Kg. This means that the weight of the 454 kWh battery is around 3.7 tonnes.

I do like the modularity of the batteries, as it means must mean greater flexibility for bus operators, especially in a large city, where there is a varied mix of routes.

Intriguingly the batteries appear to be water cooled. Is the heat generated by the batteries, used to warm the bus in winter? Now that would be kool!

Battery Charging

In the specification on the Wrightbus web site, under a heading of EV Charging, this is said.

CCS2.0 Compliant Combo2 Socket
150kW or 300kW fast charge

And under a heading of EV Charge Time, this is said.

340kWh – 2 ½ hours @ 150kW
454kWh – 3 hours @ 150Kw
Up to 420kW Opportunity Charging / Pantograph Charging

I find the pantograph charging interesting.

I have been following a battery train charging device called a Railbaar since 2016, when I wrote How To Charge A Battery Train.

The device is now available for buses as a Busbaar and this page on the opbrid web site talks about opportunity charging for buses.

Opportunity Charging would entail charging the buses at suitable points along the route, using an overhead charging point and a speciality designed pantograph on the roof of the bus.

Wrightbus claims a charging rate of 420 kW for their system. With a claimed range of 200 miles, these buses should be able to handle at least 90 % of the bus routes in the UK.

Note that Opbrid are part of Furrer + Frey, the Swiss supplier of railway overhead electrification, who have a quality pedigree and are Network Rail’s supplier of choice for overhead electrification.

Co-location Of Bus And Railway Stations

Bus stations with charging for battery buses and electrified railway lines will both need a high grade connection to the electricity grid.

As an Electrical Engineer, I think it would be prudent to co-locate bus and railway stations so that all heavy users and the parked electric vehicles nearby could share the grid connection.

Both The Hydroliner And The Electroliner Appear To Share A Chassis

Looking at the cutaways on the two web pages for the buses, the chassis of both buses appear to be very similar.

The cutaway for the Electroliner shows some of the batteries low down between the wheels with more stacked up at the back of bus.

On the Hydroliner much of the equipment seems to be stacked up at the back of the bus.

The similar chassis and body designs must surely help production and allow a lot of components to be shared between the two buses.

Drive System

This article on electrive is entitled Voith To Deliver Electric Drives For Wrightbus and this is the first paragraph.

Northern Irish bus manufacturer Wrightbus has selected Voith as its exclusive partner to supply the electric drive system for the second generation of its battery-electric and fuel cell buses for Europe.

The second paragraph, says that Wrightbus has an order for eighty Electroliners for Translink in Northern Ireland to be delivered after August 2021.

This electrive article also described Voith’s electric drive system (VEDS).

The German supplier says it has developed the VDES specifically for the requirements of public transport. The 340 kW electric motor is said to be able to drive even double-decker buses, heavy articulated buses and trucks over long distances. The system also includes a water-cooled converter system, a drive management unit (called DMU), further converters for auxiliary units and the on-board charging management system including the cabling. Voith expects this to result in the highest possible efficiency, as all components are coordinated with each other.

Note the water-cooled converter system.

Running Gear

No vehicle is complete without a good set of wheels and suspension. The first electrive article says this.

Other features of the StreetDeck Electroliner, Wrightbus says, include a ZF rear axle system (AV133) and an independent front suspension system (RL 82 EC), also from ZF.

Few would question the choice of ZF as a supplier.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Wrightbus have designed two buses, from the best components they can find and fitted them into their own purpose-built chassis and bodywork.

It’s almost as how the great Colin Chapman of Lotus fame would have designed a bus.

 

I

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Work Underway To Create ‘UK’s Biggest Electric Bus Charging Station’ In Glasgow

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

This is the first paragraph.

Public transport operator First Bus has begun work to retrofit its Caledonia depot in Glasgow to host 162 electric vehicle (EV) charging points, claiming the project will be the largest of its kind in the UK once complete.

These are other points from the article.

  • The project is in two phases and both will be complete by the end of 2022.
  • Phase One will handle the charging for twenty-two buses for COP26.
  • The new chargers will be 150 kW and will be supplied by the Heliox Group.
  • First Bus aim to have a zero-emission fleet in the UK by 2035.

This Google Map shows the Caledonia depot.

Note.

  1. It is a big site.
  2. There seems plenty of space in the area.
  3. The M74 Motorway in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. Further to the South-West is the main electrified railway into Glasgow Central station.

I have some thoughts.

Power Supply

Charging up 162 electric buses at a rate of 150 kW will need an electrical feed of 24.3 MW.

To illustrate the levels of renewable power available near Glasgow, Whitelee Wind Farm is a dozen miles to the South-West.

  • It is the largest onshore wind farm in the UK and the second largest in Europe.
  • It has a nameplate capacity of 539 MW.

All of a sudden 24.3 MW of preferably renewable energy doesn’t seem such a large amount.

The grid may need strengthening to bring electricity into the First Bus Caledonia depot, but I doubt that would be the most difficult of projects.

Energy Storage

I am an enthusiast for energy storage and have invested in two companies developing energy storage systems.

My modelling of water networks in the 1970s and what I’ve read since, indicate to me, that detailed modelling would show that to support a 24.3 MW electrical supply to the depot, some amount of energy storage will be needed.

Highview Power are building a system at Carrington near Manchester, that can supply 50 MW for up to five hours.

If I was First Bus, I would be seriously looking at energy storage to support the charging of the buses.

After all, there’s nothing as useless in the morning rush hour in a city like Glasgow, than a flat battery-electric bus!

Wind Turbines And Solar Panels

How about some on site power generation?

Conclusion

Given the renewable energy available locally and First Bus’s objective of being zero-carbon by 2035, I can see Caledonia depot being enlarged in the future.

June 7, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments

A Trip On An Electric Double Deck Bus On Route 212 Between Chingford And St. James Street Stations

I took these pictures on the route between Chingford and St. James Street stations.

Note.

  • The bus is an Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 EV, which is built on on BYD Auto‘s K10 chassis, powertrain and batteries.
  • Wikipedia quotes a performance of 303 km service range from a 320kWh lithium iron phosphate battery and two 150 kW motors.
  • This range would be comparable with a diesel bus, that typically does 200 miles per day.
  • It certainly handled the route from Chingford well. But then it was very much downhill, so it got help from Newton’s friend.
  • I rode on the top deck up the front and the ride was as I’d expect from a quality busin the UK.

As there wasn’t any sign of charging equipment at either end of the route, I suspect that the route is well-suited for the buses.

I know someone, who used to manage this route and they called it a basket case.

I can certainly understand that.

  • The route is narrow in places with cars parked on both sides of the road. This must delay services.
  • I was lucky with the level crossing at Highams Park station, but at busy times it could be a nightmare.

Will the new Class 710 trains on the parallel Chingford Branch Line improve matters, by attracting passengers away from their cars in the area and the buses?

There has also been talk of a new station at Chingford Hatch, which could also be served by the 212 bus.

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Could London’s New Routemaster Buses Be Fully-Electric In The City Centre?

London’s New Routemaster buses are different from nearly all the other buses built in the UK, in that Wrightbus designed them around a custom-design of chassis and series hybrid drive-train, whereas most other buses are built on a standard chassis from Volvo or another manufacturer.

These pictures show the buses from different angles.

For comparison, two of London’s other buses are shown.

Could The New Routemasters Be Fitted With Slim Pantographs?

If you look at the different profiles of the New Routemaster and the other two buses, it appears to have a thicker profile.

I very much feel that a lightweight tram pantograph could be designed to fit in the roof of a New Routemaster.

  • The bus might be a few centimetres taller at most.
  • I would be very surprised if there are many places in Central London, where clearance is limited.

This pantograph could be used to strategically charge the batteries.

It Would Not Be A Trolley Bus

I can remember London’s trolley buses.

Note.

  • All of these modern trolley buses in Europe have two overhead wires, which are needed to handle electric currents.
  • They are also designed for powering the bus as it moves along the road.

But I suspect there is a design somewhere to connect a bus to two overhead rails for charging purposes.

 

 

 

 

May 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Are Hydrogen-Fuelled Vehicles A Waste Of Our Time And Energy?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Engineering & Technology, which is the magazine of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. So it should be authoritative.

This is the concluding paragraph.

Cars account for 61 per cent of surface transport emissions, HGVs only 17 per cent, buses 3 per cent, and rail 2 per cent (CCC, December 2020) so for cost/benefit it cannot be worthwhile switching to hydrogen fuel cell buses and trains. Through any impartial lens of engineering science, hydrogen fuel cell cars do not appear to be a transport winner and the Government should revisit decisions it has made about related funding. But then there is political virtue signalling.

It is a must-read contribution to the debate, as to whether hydrogen or battery power, is best for surface transport.

I don’t believe there is a simple answer, because for some applications, battery electric power is not feasible because of reasons of power or range.

  • Would a battery-electric truck, be able to haul a forty-four tonne load between the Channel Tunnel and Scotland?
  • Would a battery-electric locomotive be able to haul a thousand tonne aggregate or stone train for anything but a few tens of miles?
  • Is it possible to design a a battery-electric double-deck bus, that can carry seventy passengers?

I believe there are applications, where battery-electric is not a feasible alternative to the current diesel traction.

It is worth noting, that truck-maker; Daimler is planning to have both battery and hydrogen heavy trucks in its product line.

Users will choose, what is the best zero-carbon transport for their needs.

The Black Cab Driver’s Answer

It is always said, that, if you want to know the answer to a difficult question, you ask the opinion of a black cab driver.

So as the new electric black taxis, are the most common electric vehicle, that the average Londoner uses, what do the guys up-front say about their expensive vehicles.

  • Regularly, cab drivers complain to me about the range and having to use the diesel engine to charge the battery or power the car.
  • Some suggest to me, that hydrogen might be a better way to make the vehicles zero-carbon.

I think they may have a point about hydrogen being a better method of powering a black taxi, when you look at the pattern of journeys and the battery size and charging limitations of the vehicle.

These limitations may reduce in the future, as the technology gets better, with higher density batteries and faster charging.

We could even see a design and sales war between battery and hydrogen black cabs.

It always pays to follow the money!

February 17, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Daimler Unveils Electric Bus With 441 kWh Solid-State Battery Pack

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Daimler has unveiled an electric bus equipped with a solid-state battery pack — probably becoming the first planned production EV with a solid-state battery.

What is meant by solid-state battery, is not stated.

But at 441 kWh it is not a small battery!

This article on the Daimler Global Media Site gives these extra details.

In general, vehicles with solid-state batteries as standard were not expected until the middle of this decade. Mercedes-Benz is faster: the new eCitaro G is the first series production city bus in its category anywhere in the world to be equipped with solid-state batteries. They have a very high energy density which is around 25 percent greater than the coming generation of traditional lithium-ion batteries with liquid electrolyte. The result is an impressive energy content of 441 kWh for the new eCitaro G. This battery technology is also free of the chemical element cobalt and therefore especially environmentally friendly in the manufacture of the components.

The long life of the solid-state batteries is particularly striking. Therefore, when purchasing an eCitaro with solid-state batteries, a basic guarantee for the high-voltage battery for up to 10 years or up to 280 MWh energy throughput per battery pack is standard.

They sound impressive.

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , | 5 Comments

Solving The Problem With Electric Bus Design

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International.

The article opens with this paragraph.

A number of European cities have committed to securing only zero-emission buses by 2025. However, to achieve this objective, manufacturers must make bold design choices, radically changing bus componentry, systems, and bodywork. Here, it looks at the debate for greater electric bus design standardization.

Standardisation is one thing, but the article doesn’t talk about the major problem with electric bus design – For many countries like the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Germany, where there are lots of double-decker or articulated high-capacity buses, battery electric buses are just not big enough.

Battery-electric buses are also generally not big enough to compete with the latest designs of tram and metro systems.

These pictures show the Chinese double-deck electric double-deck buses, that ran in London.

Half of the downstairs was take up by batteries.

Where are they now?

The Belgian firm; Van Hool have a product called Exquicity. This video shows them working in Pau in France.

But these buses are powered by hydrogen.

Similar buses running in Belfast are diesel-electric.

In both the Pau and Belfast applications, I wonderwhy they didn’t use trolley-bus versions of the WxquiCity or conventional trams.

Conclusion

Until we get more efficient battery storage, electric buses will have difficulty competing economically in the high-capacity bus sector.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments