The Anonymous Widower

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 and 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 | , , , , , , , | 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 | , , , | 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 | , , , , | 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 | , , | 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 | , , , , , , | 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 | , , , | 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 | , , , | 8 Comments

Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 911 of Rail Magazine.

This is the opening paragraph.

On July 28, a South Western Railway train ran along the Fawley Branch Line. to make the case for reopening to passenger services after a 54-year gap.

On board were the Rail Minister; Chris Heaton-Harris, Network Rail Chairman; Sir Peter Hendy, Managing Director of South Western Railway; Mark Hopwood and Lord Montagu of Beulieu.

The article reports the trip and fills in more of the details, that make more sense of my sketchy post called Reintroduction Of Passenger Rail Services On The Waterside Line.

These are some points from the article.

The Infrastructure Needs Updating

This is a quote from the article.

The route has a line speed of 30 mph, with lower speed restrictions at level crossings, some of which are still hand-operated. Semaphore signals operated from by mechanical levers from Marchwood remain in use. A token is given to the driver to allow the train to run towards Fawley. All this would require updating.

Elsewhere the article says there are ten level crossings.

Housing Is The Game Changer

This is another quote from the article.

The big change is urban sprawl. In the half century since passenger services ended, housing estates for thousands of people have been built alongside the line. mostly for commuters into Southampton and the surrounding conurbation.

Up to 5,000 further new homes are planned, including an all-new small town on the site of the former Fawley power station on the southern tip of Southampton Water. Planning permission for at least 1,300 homes was granted the very evening before the Fawley train ran.

This Google Map shows the the town of Hythe and the giant Fawley Refinery.

Note.

  1. Hythe is towards the top of the map on Southampton Water.
  2. The refinery is the large beige blob in the middle on Southampton Water.
  3. The Fawley Branch runs close to the water and finishes inside the secure fence of the refinery.
  4. There will be stations at Marchwood, Hythe Town and Hythe & Fawley Parkway.
  5. The parkway station will be to the North of the refinery.
  6. The major housing site is on the former Fawley power station site, which is the Southernmost beige blob.
  7. The blue dot towards the West indicates the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

It looks to me, that an electric shuttle bus between Hythe & Fawley Parkway, Beaulieu and the various housing sites would be a good idea.

The Cost Of The Scheme

This is another quote from the article.

The campaign to open the line has been spearheaded by the Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership.

Chairman Nick Farthing says:

“For £45m, you get the track, signalling and level crossings sorted. You get a 60 mph railway with three stations = upgrading Marchwood, a new station for Hythe, and Fawley park-and-ride (just beyond Holbury, where Hardley Halt used to be).

“Three Rivers commissioned a level crossing study from Network Rail, so we know what has to be done. We’ve used a rail-approved contractor to work out how much the three stations will cost.

Three Rivers have also identified some affordable diesel rolling stock.

South Western Railway’s Innovative Train Plan

This is another quote from the article.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains discusses this conversion in detail.

Conclusion

This plan seems to be coming together strongly.

All the partners like Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership, Network Rail, South Western Railway and other local interests seem to be acting together and very professionally.

 

 

August 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Diesel Buses To Be Phased Out Within 15 Years To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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

Hallelujah!

Should be heavy trucks, next!

July 27, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Meet The Futuristic-Looking Electric Arrival Bus

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

The Arrival Bus is by the same company, who are building electric vans for UPS, that I wrote about in UK Electric Van Maker Arrival Secures £340m Order From UPS.

This is a video of the prototype under test.

This article on CNET is entitled Arrival’s Electric Bus Is Designed For Coronavirus-Era Social Distancing and it contains this paragraph.

The British startup company, which focuses on smart electric vehicles, on Wednesday debuted the Arrival Bus, pitched as just the bus for social distancing. That’s because the interior of the bus is customizable, with removable seats, so you can create additional space between passengers. It’s a pretty novel way to increase or decrease seats to meet reopening guidelines

If it works, knowing Sod’s Law, it will probably be rarely used, as someone will come up with an affordable vaccine, that’s bulletproof!

As we’ve also had an electric bus from Norfolk, that I wrote about in Equipmake Opens New Electric Bus Factory In Snetterton, there will be several players helping to decarbonise the bus industry.

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | Leave a comment