The Anonymous Widower

Battery Train And Fast Charger To Be Tested In London

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

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has signed an agreement to test Vivarail’s Class 230 battery multiple-unit and fast charging technology under real-world conditions on the 4 km non-electrified branch between West Ealing and Greenford in West London.

As an engineer, who started designing control systems for rolling mills in the mid-1960s and went on to get a Degree in Control and Electrical Engineering from Liverpool University, before working for ICI applying computers to a variety of problems, I can’t look at a railway line like the Greenford Branch without wanting to automate it.

I had one amateurish attempt in An Automated Shuttle Train On The Greenford Branch Line. I was trying to get four trains per hour (tph) on the branch and I don’t think that is possible, with the Class 230 trains.

Now we know the train we are dealing with, I could plan an automated system, that would drive the train.

  • Each journey on the branch takes around 11-12 minutes.
  • Two tph would take between 44 and 48 minutes shuttling between the two stations in an hour.
  • The article states that recharging takes ten minutes.
  • If the train charged the batteries once per hour, that would leave between two and six minutes for the other three stops.
  • Any freight train using the branch seems to take about six minutes, so they could sneak through, when the shuttle is having a fast charge.
  • I would also use a similar system to that originally used on the Victoria Line. After the driver has closed the doors and ascertained that there were no problems, they would press a button to move the train to the next station and then automatically open the doors.

From this rough calculation to run a two tph service, I suspect that the train needs to be able to go between West Ealing and Greenford stations in ten minutes. Assuming one ten minute Fast Charge per hour, this would give three minutes and twenty seconds to turn the train, at the three terminal station stops.

I certainly feel, that an automatic shuttle would be possible.

February 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Amp Wins Consent For 800MW Scots Battery Complex

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Canadian storage player Amp Energy has revealed that its 800MW battery portfolio in Scotland has secured planning consent.

The portfolio is due to be operational in April 2024 and will comprise two 400MW battery facilities, each providing 800 megawatt-hours of energy storage capacity.

Some other points from the article.

  • The two facilities will be located at Hunterston and Kincardine.
  • They will be the two  largest grid-connected battery storage facilities in Europe.
  • The two batteries will be optimised by Amp Energy‘s proprietary software.

This Google Map shows the Hunterston area.

Note.

  1. The Hunterston A and Hunterston B nuclear power stations, which are both being decommissioned.
  2. Hunterston B only shut down on the 7th of January, this year.
  3. There is also a large brownfield site in the North-East corner of the map.

This second Google Map shows the South-East corner of the nuclear power station site.

It’s certainly got a good grid connection.

But then it had to support.

  • The Hunterston A nuclear power station rated at 360 MW.
  • The Hunterston B nuclear power station rated at 1.2 GW.
  • The Western HVDC Link, which is an interconnector to Connah’s Quay in North Wales, that is rated at 2.2 GW.

I’m sure that National Grid has a suitable socket for a 400 MW battery.

This Google Map shows the Kincardine area.

Note.

  1. The Clackmannanshire Bridge down the Western side of the map.
  2. The Kincardine Substation to the East of the bridge close to the shore of the River Forth.
  3. The 760 MW Kincardine power station used to be by the substation, but was demolished by 2001.

As at Hunterston, I’m sure that National Grid could find a suitable socket for a 400 MW battery.

Amp Energy’s Philosophy

As a trained Control Engineer I like it.

  • Find a well-connected site, that can handle upwards of 400 MW in and out.
  • Put in a 800 MWh battery, that can handle 400 MW in and out.
  • Optimise the battery, so that it stores and supplies electricity as appropriate.
  • Throw in a bit of artificial intelligence.

Old power station sites would seem an ideal place to site a battery. Especially, as many demolished coal, gas and nuclear stations are around 400-600 MW.

It should be noted that Highview Power are building a 50 MW/400 MWh CRYOBattery on an old coal-fired power station site in Vermont.

The Western HVDC Link

I mentioned earlier that the Northern end of the Western HVDC Link, is at Hunterston.

The Wikipedia entry for the Western HVDC Link, says this about the link.

The Western HVDC Link is a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) undersea electrical link in the United Kingdom, between Hunterston in Western Scotland and Flintshire Bridge (Connah’s Quay) in North Wales, routed to the west of the Isle of Man.[2] It has a transmission capacity of 2,250 MW and became fully operational in 2019.

The link is 262 miles long.

This Google Map shows the Connah’s Quay area in North Wales.

Note.

  1. The red arrow indicates the Flintshire Bridge HVDC converter station, which is the Southern end of the Western HVDC Link.
  2. The Borderlands Line between Liverpool and Chester, runs North-South to the East of the convertor station.
  3. To the East of the railway are two solar farms. The Northern one is Shotwick Solar Park, which at 72 MW is the largest solar farm in the UK.
  4. To the West of the converter station, just to the East of the A 548 road, is the 498 MW Deeside power station.
  5. Follow the A548 road to the West and over the River Dee, the road passes South of the 1420 MW Connah’s Quay Power station.
  6. The two power stations burn gas from Liverpool Bay.
  7. There are a lot of wind turbines along the North Wales Coast and Liverpool Bay.

The map also shows a lot of high electricity users like Tata Steel.

I can certainly see why the Western HVDC Link was built to connect Scotland and North Wales.

  • There is a lot of renewable energy generation at both ends.
  • There are heavy electricity users at both ends.
  • The Scottish Central Belt is at the North.
  • Greater Merseyside is at the South.

The Western HVDC Link is an electricity by-pass, that must have avoided expensive and controversial construction on land.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see another 400 MW/800 MWh battery at the Southern end.

Conclusion

The Canadians seem to have bagged two of the best battery sites in Europe.

  • Both sites would appear to be able to handle 400 MW, based on past capabilities.
  • There is lots of space and extra and/or bigger batteries can probably be connected.
  • Scotland is developing several GW of wind power.

I can see Amp Energy building a series of these 400 MW sites in the UK and around Europe.

This is the big news of the day!

 

January 26, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Drax’s Plans For Cruachan

Cruachan Power Station is a pumped-storage hydroelectric power station in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.

  • It can generate 440 MW of power.
  • It has a storage capacity of 7.1 GWh.
  • The power station is owned by Drax.

This Google Map shows the area around the power station.

Note.

  1. Cruachan Reservoir is the upper reservoir for the power station.
  2. The River Awe is the lower reservoir.
  3. The turbines for the power station are in a hollowed-out Ben Cruachan.
  4. There is a visitor centre, which is two-hundred metres from the Falls of Cruachan station, that can be seen on the map, by the river.

More information on visiting can be found at the Visit Cruachan web site.

This second map shows the Southern part of the  Cruachan Reservoir to a larger scale.

Note the strength of the dam.

The Operation Of Cruachan Power Station

Wikipedia says this about the operation of Cruachan power station.

The station is capable of generating 440 megawatts (590,000 hp) of electricity from four turbines, two of 100 megawatts (130,000 hp) and two of 120 megawatts (160,000 hp) capacity, after two units were upgraded in 2005. It can go from standby to full production in two minutes, or thirty seconds if compressed air is used to start the turbines spinning. When the top reservoir is full, Cruachan can operate for 22 hours before the supply of water is exhausted. At full power, the turbines can pump at 167 cubic metres (5,900 cu ft) per second and generate at 200 cubic metres (7,100 cu ft) per second.

What I find surprising, is that they only upgraded two turbines to 120 MW. I would suspect that there was some other factor that stopped all turbines from being upgraded.

So I would be very surprised if Drax upgraded the power of the existing station.

The Wikipedia extract claims that the Cruachan power station can provide power for 22 hours, if the reservoir, which has a capacity of 7.1 GWh is full. A simple calculation gives an average output in 323 MW. Does that indicate an efficiency of 73.4 %, by dividing 323 by 440.

But no pumped storage system of the 1950s is 100 % efficient. The Ffestiniog Power Station, which opened two years before Cruachan has an efficiency of 73 %. , which appears to be in line with the figures for Cruachan.

Cruachan Power Station And Nuclear Power

Wikipedia says this about Cruachan power station and Hunterston A nuclear power station.

Construction began in 1959 to coincide with the Hunterston A nuclear power station in Ayrshire. Cruachan uses cheap off-peak electricity generated at night to pump water to the higher reservoir, which can then be released during the day to provide power as necessary.

Note.

  1. Hunterston A power station closed in 1990.
  2. Hunterston B power station closed a few days ago.
  3. Scotland now only has one nuclear station at Torness.

It looks like the method of operation will have to change.

Cruachan Power Station And Wind Power

The obvious replacement source of energy at night to replace the nuclear power is wind power.

As I write this the UK is generating 8.5 GW of power from wind turbines.

Surely, enough can be diverted to Cruachan to fill the Cruachan Reservoir.

Cruachan 2

Drax’s plans for Cruachan are based around the building of a second underground power station, which is not surprisingly called Cruachan 2. This page on the Drax web site describes Cruachan 2.

  • It will be a 600 MW power station.
  • It will be to the East of the current power station.
  • More than a million tonnes of rock would be excavated to build the power station.

The existing upper reservoir, which can hold 2.4 billion gallons of water, has the capacity to serve both power stations.

I think it is reasonable to assume the following about Cruachan 2.

  • Design of the turbines will have improved in the sixty years since the Francis turbines for the original power station were ordered and designed.
  • The turbines will now be precisely computer-controlled to optimise the operation of the power station.
  • The turbines will have a faster response, than even that of Cruachan 1, which will help to match output to demand.

But most importantly, I suspect that the efficiency will be higher due to improved turbine design.

I can do a simple calculation, where I will assume the following figures for the two power stations.

  • Cruachan 1 – 440 MW – Efficiency – 73 % – Full Power – 323 MW
  • Cruachan 2 – 600 MW – Efficiency – 80 % – Full Power – 480 MW

It looks to me that 1040 MW can be used to store water in the reservoir and at this rate it would take 6.8 hours to fill the reservoir. With just Cruachan 1 in operation, filling the reservoir would take sixteen hours.

It looks like with moderate winds generating sensible amounts of electricity, it should be possible to fill the reservoir overnight using both Cruachan 1 and Cruachan 2.

When running flat-out, the combined station can generate 803 MW. At that rate it will generate the power for just under nine hours.

The Wikipedia entry for Francis turbines says this.

Francis turbines are the most common water turbine in use today, and can achieve over 95% efficiency.

Applying 95 % Efficiency to Cruachan 2 would give the following.

  • An output of 570 MW for Cruachan 2.
  • A total output of 1010 MW for the combined station.
  • This would mean the combined station could deliver 1.01 GW for just over seven hours.

Modern control technology would probably be used to ensure that the output of the combined Cruachan station filled in the gaps between demand and supply.

Could The Size Of Cruachan Reservoir Be Increased?

This would increase the amount of energy stored.

I suspect that it probably can’t be increased, as any increases would have been done by now.

Conclusion

It looks like very good engineering to me.

  • There is a good chance, that on most nights, the reservoir will be filled using wind energy
  • The maximum output of the Cruachan power station has been more than tripled from 323 to 1010 MW.
  • There has been no increase in the size of the Cruachan reservoir.

Scotland will now have a GW-sized hydro-electric power station.

 

 

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Young Break For The Border To Ring In The New Year

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

This a subtitle to the report, above a picture of five Scots girls enjoying themselves in Newcastle.

Revellers from Scotland and Wales dodging Covid restrictions at home flocked to clubs and bars in England

It will be interesting to see how the Scottish and Welsh Covid statistics pan out in the next few days.

As a trained Control Engineer, I am totally against lockdowns, except as a very last resort.

It’s like trying to ride a bike only turning the handlebars full left and full right.

Try it and you will soon fall off.

January 1, 2022 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Virtual Power Plants: Enphase, Sunverge And LG In The US, Project Symphony In Australia

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

The article is a good introduction to the concept of a virtual power plant. The Wikipedia entry starts with this definition.

A virtual power plant (VPP) is a cloud-based distributed power plant that aggregates the capacities of heterogeneous distributed energy resources (DER) for the purposes of enhancing power generation, as well as trading or selling power on the electricity market.

It can almost be thought of as an energy equivalent of the Internet.

As a Control Engineer, I believe that the creation of virtual power plants will be very important in the future.

Read the article and the Wikipedia entry and see if you agree.

December 11, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | 3 Comments

More On Batteries On Class 802 Trains

In the December 2021 Edition there’s an article called Battery Trial For TPE ‘802’.

Class 802 trains are now involved in two battery trials.

This article puts some flesh of the bones of the two trials.

It is hoped that replacing one diesel engine (generator unit) with a battery pack will enable the following.

  • Reduction of carbon emissions by at least 20 %.
  • Reduction of fuel consumption.
  • The ability to rely on battery power when entering and leaving stations to reduce noise pollution and emissions.

This paragraph explains a possible way the trains will be operated.

Another option is to use the battery to provide ‘classic’ hybridisation efficiency, allowing most diesel running to be done fuel-efficiently under two engines rather than three. In this case, the battery module would provide top-up power for peak demand and give regenerative braking capability when operating in diesel mode, which the trains currently do not have.

This is one of the aims of the GWR trial and I suspect anybody, who has owned and/or driven a hybrid car will understand Hitachi’s thinking.

The next paragraph is very revealing.

To fully test the 6m-long, 2.2m-wide battery module, the intention is for it to be flexibly programmable in order for different approaches to charging, including from the overhead line power supply, diesel engines and during braking , to be evaluated.

It looks to me that Hyperdrive Innovation will earn their fees for the battery design and manufacture.

This picture shows the underneath of a Class 802 train.

Note.

  • The car is 26 metres long
  • The car is 2.75 metres wide.
  • The MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines, fitted to a Class 802 train, each weigh around two tonnes.
  • The engines have a power output of 700 kW

I would think that the 6 x 2.2 m battery would fit under the car easily.

As an engineer, who has evaluated all sorts of weight and balance problems, I would make the battery similar in weight to the diesel engine. This would mean that the existing mountings for the diesel engine  should be able to support the battery pack. It would also probably mean that the handling of a car with a diesel engine and one with a battery pack should be nearer to being identical.

Tesla claim an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg for their batteries, which would mean a battery with the weight of one of the diesel engines could have a capacity of around 500 kWh.

As a Control Engineer, I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation have a tricky problem to get the algorithm right, so that the trains perform equally well under all conditions. But with a good simulation and lots of physical testing, getting the algorithm right is very much a solvable problem.

The article says this about the reliability of the diesel engines or generator units (GU) as Hitachi call them.

Whilst reliability of the generator units (GU) has improved, operators of the bi-mode sets still report frequent issues  which see sets ending their daily diagram with one out of use.

I wonder, if battery packs will improve reliability.

From statements in the article, it looks like Hitachi, MTU and the train operating companies are being cautious.

The article also says this about the design of the battery packs.

The battery pack has been designed so it is a like-for-like replacement for a GU, which can maintain or improve performance, without compromising on seats or capacity.

I have always said it would be plug-and-play and this would appear to confirm it.

How Will The Batteries Be Charged?

I showed this paragraph earlier.

To fully test the 6m-long, 2.2m-wide battery module, the intention is for it to be flexibly programmable in order for different approaches to charging, including from the overhead line power supply, diesel engines and during braking , to be evaluated.

GWR and TPE run their Class 802 trains to several stations without electrification. and they will probably need some method of charging the battery before leaving the station.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Note.

  1. This infographic was published with the Hitachi press release announcing the development of the tri-mode train for GWR.
  2. One diesel engine has been replaced by a battery pack.
  3. Charging the battery can be under wires or 10-15 minutes whilst static.
  4. At some stations like Exeter St. Davids, Penzance, Plymouth or Swansea, heavily-laden services might need the assistance of batteries to get up to operating speed.

The infographic released with the Hitachi press release announcing the trials for TPE.

It is similar, but it says nothing about charging.

So how will these trains be charged in stations like Hull, Middlesbrough. Penzance, Scarborough and Swansea, so they leave on their return journey with a full battery?

Consider.

  • The formation of a five-car Class 802 train is DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF.
  • Pantographs appear to be on both driver cars.
  • The middle three cars have diesel engines.
  • Only the middle three cars have traction motors.
  • There is probably a high-capacity electrical bus running the length of the train, to enable electricity to power all the cars from either or both paragraphs, when running on an electrified line.

The simplest way to charge the batteries would probably be to install a short lengthy of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in the station and then to charge the batteries the driver would just raise the pantograph and energise the electrical bus, which would then feed electricity to the batteries.

I wrote about Furrer + Frey’s Voltap charging system in Battery Train Fast Charging Station Tested. This charging system would surely work with Hitachi’s designs as batteries can be charged from overhead electrification.

Conclusion

I suspect that Hitachi will achieve their objectives of saving fuel and cutting emissions.

But there is more than this project to just replacing one diesel engine with a battery pack  and seeing what the savings are.

It appears that the battery packs could have an effect on train reliability.

If the battery packs are truly like-for-like with the diesel engines, then what will be effect of replacing two and three diesel engines in a five-car Class 802 train with battery packs.

Will it be possible to develop an ability to setup the train according to the route? It’s only similar to the way Mercedes probably set up Lewis Hamilton’s car for each circuit.

But then the speed Formula One cars lap Silverstone is not that different to the maximum speed of a Hitachi Class 802 train.

 

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Improving The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction

On the thirty mile stretch of the East Coast Main Line, between York and Northallerton stations, the route is mainly four tracks.

But three miles North of York there is Skelton Bridge over the River Ouse, which is shown in this Google Map.

Zooming closer, I clipped this second Google Map.

Note.

  1. There are actually two bridges over the River Ouse.
  2. The East bridge is a double-track bridge and is the original stone arch bridge.
  3. The West bridge was added later and I suspect has little architectural merit.
  4. The tracks on both sides of the bridge are extremely complicated.

If you look at the timings, trains seem to take one of two timings between York and Northallerton.

  • 17-18 minutes, which is almost an average speed of 100 mph.
  • 27 minutes, which is 67 mph.

Incidentally, one of Drax’s long biomass trains managed a time of 27 minutes.

Would going faster save any minutes?

  • A 110 mph average would give a time of 16.4 minutes
  • A 120 mph average would give a time of 15 minutes
  • A 125 mph average would give a time of 14.4 minutes
  • A 140 mph average would give a time of 12.9 minutes

On the face of it, it doesn’t appear that there are very large time savings, to be achieved.

On the other hand, if all trains can pass through Skelton Bridge and its complicated junction, without slowing, delays will be minimised and timetables can be faster.

But there is an anomaly in all the express trains that pass through York station. All stop, except those planned for East Coast Trains. In fact, their trains won’t stop between Stevenage and Newcastle.

The obvious solution to the Skelton Bridge problem, is to do what British Rail didn’t have the courage to do, when they electrified the East Coast Main Line in the 1980s. And that is to demolish the bridge and build a stylish modern four-track bridge!

It would eliminate many of the things, that could go wrong and would surely improve reliability. This could help to maintain a higher operating speed.

But would it be allowed by the Planning Authorities and the Heritage Taliban?

Hopefully, it doesn’t matter!

  • I am a Control Engineer and mathematical modeller, who has programmed some immensely complex systems in the last fifty-five years.
  • I have also flown light aircraft on instruments for many hours, where you control the plane according to what Air Traffic Controllers and the instruments tell you.

My experience tells me that, it would be possible to control a busy junction, like Skelton Bridge safely, by a well-programmed computer system helping the driver, arrive at the junction at the right time to go straight through.

I also believe that if modern in-cab digital ERTMS signalling can handle twenty-four tph on Thameslink going to and from scores of stations, then it can handle Skelton Bridge Junction.

In Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?, I proposed a similar solution to the problem at Newark.

November 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

UK’s Tevva Uses Submarine Tech To Power Electric Trucks

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

The article is from April 2017 and starts with this paragraph.

Startup founded by Asher Bennett, brother of Israel’s education minister, aims to provide digital, emission-free vehicles.

This paragraph gives details of the man behind the company and their first sales.

Meanwhile, one UK company — Tevva Motors — has already got its first orders for repowering the trucks of delivery giants UPS, DHL and Switzerland’s Kuehne+Nagel with its components, including the batteries and motor, according to Tevva’s 48-year-old Israeli founder Asher Bennett. Bennett is the older brother of former entrepreneur turned right-wing politician Naftali Bennett, who is Israel’s education minister.

Since the article was written, Naftali Bennett has become Israel’s Prime Minister.

This paragraph explains how the trucks work.

The trucks Tevva repowers as well as those the company is planning to build from scratch next year at its new facility in Chelmsford are fully digital. “Every piece of information on our trucks is on the cloud,” Bennett said. The software and algorithms developed by the company automatically calculate the most efficient use of the battery and instruct the range extender when to kick in, without any input from the driver.

We’re already starting to see trains using similar techniques.

But as a time-expired Control Engineer, I would go a similar route.

It is a fascinating article, that deserves a full read.

September 28, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russian Convoys

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Five-Train Platoons To Operate With Virtual Coupling.

This is the first paragraph.

Russian Railways is planning to use platooning technology to operate flights of up to five freight trains next year using radio data exchange between locomotives to create a virtual coupling. The aims to reduce headways from 12 to 6 to 8 min, increasing capacity on congested sections of the Trans-Siberian main line.

As a Control Engineer, I must believe that if the Russians get the programming right, then it should work.

Similar techniques will probably be used with digital signalling in the UK and Europe, where each train is controlled by the signalling. But each train will probably have a driver.

The problem in Russia could also be the large number of ungated level crossings, which according to some I’ve met  are prone to a lot of accidents, as drivers regularly chance it after too much vodka.

September 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

My INR Readings Before And After My Second AstraZeneca Jab

I am on long-term Warfarin after a serious stroke.

I also measure my own INR using a simple hand-held meter.

So with all the fuss about the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, I thought I’d do an experiment around my second dose of the vaccine.

I maintained a constant Warin dose of 3.5 mg, which is the daily dose, I have agreed with my GP.

I maintained a reasonably constant diet. That is fairly easy if you’re coeliac and on a long-term gluten-free diet, as I am.

measured my INR every morning.

These are my results.

  • April 12th – 2.3
  • April 13th – 2.8
  • April 14th – 2.8
  • April 15th – 2.9
  • April 16th – 2.5
  • April 17th – 2.3
  • April 18th – 2.3
  • April 19th – 2.4 – 2nd Jab
  • April 20th – 2.2
  • April 21st – 2.2
  • April 22nd – 2.6
  • April 23rd – 2.5
  • April 24th – 2.4
  • April 25th – 2.7
  • April 26th – 3.0
  • April 27th – 2.7
  • April 28th – 2,5
  • April 29th – 3.0
  • April 30th – 3.1
  • May 1st – 2.9
  • May 2nd – No Data
  • May 3rd – 2.8

It would appear that the results have been less stable since the second jab.

I am a Control Engineer with a B. Eng. from Liverpool University and I’m not surprised at these results.

It’s just like the bounce you get when the wheel of your car hits a pothole.

I would suggest that more research needs to be done.

May 3, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments