The Anonymous Widower

Optimal Prediction of Sand For Adhesion

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10039258

Project title: Optimal Prediction of Sand For Adhesion
Lead organisation: GOVIA THAMESLINK RAILWAY LIMITED
Project grant: £153,228

Public description: Train services are affected by seasonal variables particularly leaf fall between September and
December. They can also be compromised by wet weather, icy and snowy conditions at a regional
or very localised level on a particular route. Maintaining wheel-rail contact to ensure adequate and
safe braking requires the use of sand in low adhesion conditions. Sand is dispensed to trains in
response to a combination of train service plans and of weather forecast. However, not all trains
are currently able to be replenished during overnight stabling and servicing with attendant risks of
delays and damage to trains and infrastructure. Also, there is a high level of safety risk when sand
replenishment on trains is carried out on a third-rail yard.

“Optimal Prediction of Sand for Adhesion” (OPSA) lead by Govia Thameslink Railway, the major
Train Operating Company on third rail in the UK, will deliver a more efficient and cost-effective
means of predicting the dispensing of sand to trains to ensure services are not compromised by
adhesion losses and train sets are not required to be removed from planned operating diagrams
because of inadequate on board sand supplies. The algorithm developed as a results of this project
will base the estimates on an integrated framework that includes the forecast adhesion, track
maintenance and the expected speed profile in order to capture the change in weather and the seasonal factors.

The algorithm developed represents a cost effective solution to predict the use of sand and
schedule the maintenance of trains enhancing in turn safety and reducing the impact of delays on
the timetable. The algorithm will be developed including direct measure of sand dispersion, braking,
wheel slip and line speed diagram also accounting for human behaviour effects such as driving
style.
Govia Thameslink Railway has engaged with Cranfield University to deliver the disruptive
innovation proposed in this project. The algorithm will enable a more efficient train scheduling
improving public performance measure (PPM) addressing train delay targeting in particular the
25% of delay up to 15 minutes cause by several concurrent issues including train rescheduling and
the National Rail Passenger Survey satisfaction.

My Thoughts And Conclusions

November 18, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

X1wind – Disrupting Offshore Wind

The X1wind web site talks about disrupting offshore wind.

On the home page, they have this statement.

Oceans Contain The Largest Energy Resource On The Planet, Which Remains Untapped

They back it up with this reference.

We estimate the total global technical potential of offshore wind as 71 TW (World Bank, 2021), of which 70% is in deep waters, suited to floating wind.

The home page also has a continuous video of their floating wind turbine, which they call a PivotBuoy.

  • The wind turbine is mounted on a triangular float.
  • The turbine nacelle is supported on a tripod.
  • The turbine faces downwind.
  • The float is held in place by a single point mooring.

The float and the turbine automatically align with the wind.

This article on offshoreWIND.biz is entitled X1 Wind Installs Downwind Floating Prototype and gives more details of the turbine.

It’s certainly different.

October 28, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , | Leave a comment

Cerulean Winds Is A Different Type Of Wind Energy Company

I introduced Cerulean Winds in a post called What Is INTOG?, but I have decided it is too important a concept to be buried in another post.

Cerulean sounds like it could be a sea monster, but it is actually a shade of blue.

This article on offshoreWind.biz is entitled Cerulean Reveals 6 GW Floating Offshore Wind Bid Under INTOG Leasing Round.

These are the two introductory paragraphs.

Green energy infrastructure developer Cerulean Winds has revealed it will bid for four seabed lease sites with a combined capacity of 6 GW of floating wind to decarbonise the UK’s oil and gas sector under Crown Estate Scotland’s Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) leasing round.

This scale will remove more emissions quickly, keep costs lower for platform operators and provide the anchor for large-scale North-South offshore transmission, Cerulean Winds said.

Note.

  1. It is privately-funded project, that needs no government subsidy and will cost £30 billion.
  2. It looks like each site will be a hundred turbines.
  3. If all the sites are the same, they could be 1.5 GW each, with the use of 15 MW turbines.
  4. Each site will need £7.5 billion of investment. So it looks like Cerulean have access to a similar magic money tree as Kwasi Kwarteng.

This paragraph describes their four hundred floating bases.

The steel floating bases would constitute hundreds of thousands of tonnes of steel, which unlike cement fixtures, can be floated out from shore which is said to be ideal for the UK.

Building those bases, is a very large project.

On their web site, Cerulean Winds have a page entitled Targeted Oil And Gas Decarbonisation.

This the page’s mission statement.

Cerulean Winds, a green energy & infrastructure developer, is leading a pioneering bid to reduce carbon emissions from oil and gas production through floating offshore wind.

These three paragraphs describe the scheme.

Cerulean Winds pioneering bid proposes an integrated floating wind and hydrogen development across four offshore floating wind farms located West and East of the Shetland Islands and in the North and the South of the Central North Sea (CNS). The objective of the project is to generate electricity from floating wind farms located far offshore on otherwise unallocated and uneconomic seabed areas in order to power oil and gas platforms with green energy.

Cerulean Winds’ dedicated power transmission network will offer both green electrons and green molecules to oil & gas production facilities across the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) with surplus energy used in the production of green hydrogen. This dual approach allows the project to support all ages of oil and gas platforms with constant, reliable power and minimal brownfield modifications.

The optimised scale at which Cerulean Winds’ proposed scheme operates makes it the world’s largest decarbonisation project. It offers green energy to operators for asset power generation, delivered through an affordable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Another big advantage is the scheme does not require any public subsidies, but funded entirely through private investment.

That is sensational.

Effectively, they’re building four 1.5 GW power stations in the seas around us to power a large proportion of the oil and gas rigs.

I do have some thoughts.

Who Pays For This Massive Project?

This project overview on the Cerulean web site is entitled The Cerulean Winds INTOG Scheme and it gives many more details of the project.

I will refer to this page as the project overview in the subsequent text.

This is the first sentence of the first paragraph.

Our basin-wide scheme represents more than £30 billion of private investment in a single strategic infrastructure project.

Consider.

  • The London Olympics in 2012 cost £9 billion.
  • The Elizabeth Line will probably cost around £20 billion.
  • The Channel Tunnel in 1994 cost £9 billion.

This project is a lot bigger than these.

Will your spare fifty pounds, still be in your mattress, when Cerulean Winds has put its £30 billion together?

I think so, as this is the last sentence on the page.

The scheme is ‘private wire’ and will not require Government subsidies… being funded entirely through private investment, with no cost to the tax payer.

There will of course, be tax rebates available, as they are for any business from the smallest to the largest.

Green Hydrogen Will Be Produced Offshore

The project overview says this about green hydrogen.

The scheme would use floating offshore wind to power oil and gas assets with surplus energy converted into green hydrogen. Cerulean Winds recognise each brownfield site has a different set of requirements and this would give operators the flexibility to electrify some Brownfield assets without the need to interrupt existing production or shutdown. It would also safeguard oil and gas jobs and create new green energy jobs within the floating wind and hydrogen sectors within the next five years.

The operator will have a choice of energy – electricity or hydrogen.

How Will The Project Earn An Income?

It appears that the project, will have a number of income streams.

The main stream, is described in this sentence from the project overview on the web site.

We have a deep understanding across the energy sector and will partner with the operator to agree the best way to achieve decarbonisation targets at the lowest possible cost. Our approach offers both green electrons and green molecules to the platforms through an affordable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

It looks like the oil and gas companies that own the rigs will be significant contributors to Cerulean’s cash flow.

Green electrons (electricity) and green molecules (hydrogen) will also be brought ashore and sold to various operators and the grid.

What Happens To The Gas That Is Currently Used To Power The Oil And Gas Rigs?

I do wonder, the gas, which will no longer be needed to power the rigs will give a boost to the supply to UK consumers.

They’ve thought of that one.

Under a heading of Reducing Gas Imports, this is said.

The project also aims to maximise recovery of energy from offshore platforms. With few exceptions, each platform have their own gas turbines for power generation, burning gas extracted from the reservoirs. Approximately 10% of the gas produced each year is used in offshore power generation. By replacing the need for gas power generation with a supply of clean, green energy, Cerulean Winds’ project frees important volumes of gas produced by platforms for consumption and reduces the UK’s import of gas from overseas.

This project, when it is fully implemented could increase UK gas production by up to ten per cent.

What’s In It For The Rig Operators?

They will have some benefits.

  • They will cut their carbon dioxide emissions.
  • They will sell about ten percent more of the gas they extract.
  • Decarbonisation will not necessarily mean large capital expenditure on the rig.
  • I also suspect, that some conveniently-placed rigs will be used to send excess hydrogen from Cerulean Winds’ electrolysers to the shore.

Some rig operators will make money from decarbonisation.

When Will The Project Be Complete?

This is the first paragraph on the project overview.

Our basin-wide scheme represents more than £30 billion of private investment in a single strategic infrastructure project. The locations will be West and East of the Shetland Islands and in the Central North Sea (CNS). They will become operational by 2028.

So we don’t have to wait for ever!

What Happens To Cerulean’s Project, When The Oil And Gas Runs Out Or We Stop Using Oil And Gas?

There would now be four 1.5 GW wind farms in the North Sea, that could be connected to the National Grid.

Conclusion

It looks like Cerulean Winds are a very different energy company.

October 2, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ease Up IPA Goes Gluten Free!

The title of this post, is the same as that of this page on the Adnams web site.

I am now 75 and I have been drinking Adnams beer, almost exclusively since I was thirteen.

My father introduced me to halves of Adnams bitter, whilst playing snooker at Felixstowe Conservative Club.

Part of his logic behind doing this was to teach me to drink alcohol responsibly, like he did and to prevent me ending up like his father, who was a drunk, who died before the age of forty.

The other thing, that my father’s teaching did was give me a preference for good real ale. And especially Adnams!

As I write this, I’m drinking a bottle of their 0.5 % Ghost Ship.

8. Voila!

I drink it for three reasons.

  • Obviously, I like the taste.
  • It is low-alcohol, so it doesn’t affect the action of the Warfarin, that stops me having another stroke.
  • I also find, that because the beer is made with low amounts of barley to keep the alcohol low, it doesn’t affect my gut, despite the fact that I’m a coeliac.

I have yet to find a low-alcohol beer, that has had an adverse effect on my body.

But Will Ease Up Be Safe For A Coeliac To Drink?

These paragraphs describe how Ease Up is brewed and the testing of the product.

When producing Ease Up, we now use an enzyme called Clarex® which breaks down gluten-type proteins, reducing gluten content to below 20 parts per million (ppm). Only foods that contain 20ppm or less can be labelled as ‘gluten-free.’ According to Coeliac UK, research shows people diagnosed as coeliac can consume products with gluten present at or less than this level, but customers are advised to consider their own individual tolerances.

Clarex® is added in the fermentation vessel, where it mixes well during a normal, vigorous fermentation. Our beer is tested at the end of fermentation and then, after packaging, it is put on hold while it undergoes a thorough external validation process before it is confirmed gluten free and released. Just look out for the new, updated branding.

Note the phrase about individual tolerances.

Conclusion

It looks like Adnams have produced the ideal real ale to have in your pub, club or house, if you have some coeliac customers, family  or friends.

Never did I think, I would ever write about disruptive innovation in the brewing industry.

September 7, 2022 Posted by | Food, Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essex Firm’s Hydrogen Lorry On Show In Stoneleigh

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

These paragraphs describe the truck.

Tevva, the maker in Tilbury, Essex, says it is the first hydrogen fuel cell-supported truck to be designed, built and mass produced in the UK.

The company adds the vehicle has a range of up to 310 miles (500 km) via the tech, with hydrogen tanks able to be refilled in 10 minutes.

It says it wants to help the transport industry adapt to a “post-fossil fuel future”.

To that end, it developed a fuel cell to top up electric battery-powered trucks, giving them a longer range while reducing the size of the electric battery needed.

I think that this truck is a superb example of disruptive innovation.

  • Tevva have looked at the 7.5 tonne truck market and have developed a truck that fits it.
  • Using hydrogen as a range extender up to to 500 km. is probably a good fit for the use of these vehicles.
  • So many local delivery companies will look at these trucks, so they can tell their customers, that they now offer zero-carbon deliveries.
  • They will also be useful to go into cities, that charge diesel vehicles.

I also suspect, that a lot of parts follow the route pioneered by the great Colin Chapman – Borrow from other manufacturers.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see other companies following Tevva’s route all over the world.

July 1, 2022 Posted by | Design, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Zopa Co-Founders Speak Out Against Fintech’s Peer-To-Peer Exit

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

Read it, as it a cautionary tale about what happens to disruptive innovation.

Eventually, the big bad boys make sure you don’t disrupt their easy life.

Zopa has been part of my life for fourteen years and it did me well. Especially in the bad times and when I had a personal crisis.

I wrote Stability in Financial Systems in 2012, where I said this.

I have a strong feeling that Zopa, the peer-to-peer lender, is also a stable system. Other companies of the same type may well be too! but I am not as familiar with them as I am with Zopa.

Unfortunately, the decision makers in Zopa decided to become a bank, broke the stability and crashed the company.

Son of Zopa will arise!

December 15, 2021 Posted by | Finance | , , | Leave a comment

A Way Out Of The AstraZeneca Vaccine Row With The EU

This article on the BBC is entitled Brexit: EU Introduces Controls On Vaccines To NI.

These are the introductory paragraphs of the article.

The EU is introducing controls on vaccines made in the bloc, including to Northern Ireland, amid a row about delivery shortfalls.

Under the Brexit deal, all products should be exported from the EU to Northern Ireland without checks.

But the EU believed this could be used to circumvent export controls, with NI becoming a backdoor to the wider UK.

The row involving AstraZeneca, the UK and the EU is now getting serious,

I think, the EU are missing an opportunity.

My Experience Of The AstraZeneca Vaccine

Yesterday, I received my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which I wrote about in Job Done – I’ve Now Had My First Covid-19 Vaccination.

As I am an engineer, who helped to finance a drug-delivery system, I know a bit about the subject of drug delivery.

My jab yesterday seemed to have been administered very quickly and painlessly, without fuss. I regularly have B12 injections as I’m coeliac and this AstraZeneca one was certainly less painful for me.

Have AstraZeneca designed the vaccine and its delivery system so that it will have application in mass vaccination situations like refugee camps, where thousands may need to be vaccinated quickly?

Consider.

  • It can be transported and stored at easy-to-manage temperatures.
  • I suspect that a skilled vaccinator can vaccinate more patients per hour, than with other vaccines.
  • I didn’t feel a thing, which must help those with needle phobia.
  • The vaccinator didn’t need to apply a plaster, just using a cotton wool pad and pressure. This must save time.

This looks to me, like disruptive innovation is at work.

Surely, though by streamlining the vaccination process, this will increase the number of patients vaccinated by a well-trained team. This will be what doctors ordered.

The Real Problem With The AstraZeneca Vaccine

I have worked a lot in the design of project management systems and very often, when projects go awry, it is due to a lack of resources.

It strikes me that the problem with the AstraZeneca vaccine, is that there are not enough factories to make the vaccine.

As it is easier to distribute and AstraZeneca are making it without profit, perhaps the EU should approach the UK about creating a couple of large factories to make the vaccine in suitable places across the UK and the EU.

A proportion of this increased production could be distributed to countries, that couldn’t afford a commercial vaccine or didn’t want to get ensnared by the Chinese in a Vaccines-for-Resources deal.

It should also be remembered that Oxford are at the last stages in the testing of a vaccine for malaria. That would surely be a superb encore for Oxford University and AstraZeneca. I suspect the UK will back it, but it would surely be better, if the EU backed it as well.

January 29, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

INEOS Launches A New Clean Hydrogen Business To Accelerate The Drive To Net Zero Carbon Emissions

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from inovyn, which is an INEOS company.

The press release starts with these points.

  • The targets set out by the UN and National Governments around the world requires concrete action. INEOS is aiming not only to contribute by decarbonising energy for its existing operations, but also by providing hydrogen that will help other businesses and sectors to do the same.
  • The new business will be based in the UK and will invest in ‘first intent’ Clean Hydrogen production across Europe.
  • The production of hydrogen based on electrolysis, powered by zero carbon electricity, will provide flexibility and storage capacity for heat and power, chemicals and transport markets.
  • The European Union Hydrogen Strategy, which outlines an infrastructure roadmap for widespread utilisation of hydrogen, across Europe by 2030, present new opportunities for the business.
  • Geir Tuft CEO INOVYN said, “INEOS is uniquely placed to play a leading role in developing these new opportunities, driven by emerging demand for affordable, low-carbon energy sources, combined with our existing capabilities in operating large-scale electrolysis.”

With revenue in 2019 of $85 billion in 2019, INEOS has the financial resources to make their ambitions come true.

These are my thoughts on statements in the press release.

Geir Tuft’s Statement

Geir Tuft is reported in the press release as saying.

INEOS is uniquely placed to play a leading role in developing these new opportunities, driven by emerging demand for affordable, low-carbon energy sources, combined with our existing capabilities in operating large-scale electrolysis.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for electrolysis.

In chemistry and manufacturing, electrolysis is a technique that uses direct electric current (DC) to drive an otherwise non-spontaneous chemical reaction. Electrolysis is commercially important as a stage in the separation of elements from naturally occurring sources such as ores using an electrolytic cell. The voltage that is needed for electrolysis to occur is called the decomposition potential.

From my experience of working in ICI’s hydrogen plant at Runcorn in the 1970s and my knowledge of the technology and companies involved in the production of hydrogen, there are two standard routes to produce hydrogen by electrolysis.

  • Water can be electrolysed as in the classic school physics experiment to produce hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Brine can be electrolysed to produce hydrogen, chlorine, sodium metal and sodium hydroxide.

I worked as an instrument engineer in a plant, where brine was electrolysed using the Caster-Kellner process. As the process uses mercury, it is a process that is not without problems. There is a History section in the Wikipedia entry for the Castner-Kellner process, from where this was extracted.

The mercury cell process continues in use to this day. Current-day mercury cell plant operations are criticized for environmental release of mercury  leading in some cases to severe mercury poisoning as occurred in Japan Minamata_disease. Due to these concerns, mercury cell plants are being phased out, and a sustained effort is being made to reduce mercury emissions from existing plants.

My work in the plant, involved developing instruments to measure the mercury in the air inside the plant. I was also developing other instruments and programming a Ferranti Argus 500 computer.

Because of the death of her father, C wasn’t happy in Liverpool and when the chance came of a transfer to ICI Plastics at Welwyn Garden City, I took it.

In his statement Geir Tuft says this.

Combined with our existing capabilities in operating large-scale electrolysis.

Large-scale electrolysis was certainly handled professionally in 1970 and I’m certain that INEOS, which now owns the Runcorn plant, handles the hydrogen just as well, if not better with the help of modern technology.

Hydrogen As A By-Product

In some ways, fifty years ago, the hydrogen was considered a by-product and to some a nuisance, as I don’t think, there was much of a mass market for the gas.

I used to see it being taken away in specialist trailers, but there didn’t seem to be a major use.

300,000 Tonnes Of Clean Hydrogen

This paragraph of the press release, outlines the structure of the business.

INEOS has today launched a new business to develop and build Clean Hydrogen capacity across Europe, in support of the drive towards a zero-carbon future. INEOS currently produces 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year mainly as a co-product from its chemical manufacturing operations.

Note that co-product is used, but I suspect in many places they have too much of it, so new markets are welcome.

I have used a figure of 23 MWh, as being needed to obtain ten tonnes of hydrogen, but I can’t find where I obtained it. If it is correct then INEOS will need 690 GWh of electricity.

INEOS, Electrolysis And Hydrogen

This paragraph of the press release, outlines the relationship between INEOS, electrolysis and hydrogen

Through its subsidiary INOVYN, INEOS is Europe’s largest existing operator of electrolysis, the critical technology which uses renewable energy to produce hydrogen for power generation, transportation and industrial use. Its experience in storage and handling of hydrogen combined with its established know-how in electrolysis technology, puts INEOS in a unique position to drive progress towards a carbon-free future based on hydrogen.

All they need is the renewable energy, to add to their expertise in turning it into hydrogen.

INEOS’s Vision

This paragraph of the press release, outlines INEOS vision for hydrogen.

INEOS is already involved in several projects to develop demand for hydrogen, replacing existing carbon-based sources of energy, feedstocks and fuel. It expects to develop further partnerships with leading organisations involved in the development of new applications. INEOS will also work closely with European Governments to ensure the necessary infrastructure is put in place to facilitate hydrogen’s major role in the new Green Economy.

It is certainly a comprehensive vision.

The Conclusion Of The Press Release

Wouter Bleukx, Business Unit Manager Hydrogen has said this.

Hydrogen is an important part of a climate neutral economy that has been discussed for decades. Finally, a hydrogen-fuelled economy is within reach as transportation in the UK, Germany, France and other countries begins to run on this carbon free technology. With extensive experience in electrolysis, INEOS is uniquely placed to support these new opportunities, driven by emerging demand for affordable zero-carbon energy sources.

You can’t say the company lacks ambition.

Conclusion

This looks to me to be ambition and disruptive innovation on a grand scale.

But it is a plan that can only get bigger and more far reaching.

If the company succeeds, I believe, it will bring hydrogen for all.

November 11, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Sustainability Journey

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on the Rolls-Royce web site.

It is sub-titled.

Paul Stein’s Thoughts On Sustainability And Electrification

Paul Stein is Rolls-Royce’s Chief Technology Officer, so what he says is important.

This press release was the source of the information behind Distributed Propulsion ‘Maybe The Only Means’ For Small Electric Flight Progress, which I wrote about Rolls-Royce’s beer keg-sized 2.5 MW generator.

This is the third paragraph.

We’ve taken great steps at Rolls-Royce with our three-pillar sustainability approach of developing the gas turbine to even greater efficiency, supporting the introduction of Sustainable Aviation Fuel and creating new, disruptive technologies such as electrification.

These are definitely, the three pillars of wisdom, when it comes to sustainable aviation.

E-Fan X

This paragraph is Paul Stein’s view of the E-Fan X.

One of the great endeavours in the latter category has been our E-Fan X programme in partnership with Airbus. From our side, this has involved creating a hybrid-electric power generation system at a scale never previously seen in our industry, comprised of an embedded AE2100 gas turbine driving a 2.5MW generator and 3000V power electronics and an electric propulsion unit. What has been particularly encouraging has been the amount of industry interest and support for this programme, and I know everyone at Rolls-Royce and Airbus has been truly grateful for that.

He states that the E-Fan  has now concluded, but a several valuable lessons have been learned.

2.5 MW Generator

He describes the generator like this.

Amongst the many great achievements from E-Fan X has been the generator – about the same size as a beer keg – but producing a staggering 2.5 MW. That’s enough power to supply 2,500 homes and fully represents the pioneering spirit on this project.

The press release discloses that the heart of this staggering generator is a Rolls-Royce AE2100 gas turbine, which powers the latest version of the legendary Lockheed Hercules; the C-130J Super Hercules.

Wikipedia gives this data for the AE2100D2 version of the engine.

  • Length – three metres
  • Diameter – 0.73 metres
  • Weight – 783 kilograms
  • Maximum Power Output – 3458 kW
  • Fuel Consumption – 0.25/kW/h

It looks like in the E-Fan X application, the engine is not at full power.

Use With Aviation Biofuel

Aviation Biofuel is described like this in the first sentences of its Wikipedia entry.

Aviation biofuel is a biofuel used for aircraft. It is considered by some to be the primary means by which the aviation industry can reduce its carbon footprint. After a multi-year technical review from aircraft makers, engine manufacturers and oil companies, biofuels were approved for commercial use in July 2011.

But it doesn’t necessarily mean growing large amounts of crops and converting it to the fuel. Altalto, who are backed by British Airways, Shell, Oxford University and the British Government are building a plant at Immingham to convert household and industrial waste into aviation biofuel.

I would expect that Rolls-Royce have made sure that the generator will work with aviation biofuel.

A Memory Of Emergency Power Generation

About twenty-five years, there was a major power failure after a thunder storm, where I lived in Suffolk and C and myself went to bed in the dark. We awoke to full power in the morning, after a good night’s sleep with no disturbance.

Imagine my surprise, when I let the dogs out to find parked in the field in front of the house, a very large articulated truck.

I was greeted by an engineer, who asked if I minded, his generator in my field. I seem to remember my response was to offer him a cup of tea, which he refused, as he said he had everything he needed in the truck.

It turned out that the main sub-station for the area had received a direct lightning strike and had been destroyed. So to supply power to all the nearby villages, as my farm was at the end of the supply, it was the most convenient place to plug in a transportable gas-turbine generator. The generator was in the field for about ten days and the whole operation impressed me with its professionalism.

But with this new 2.5 MW generator from Rolls-Royce, there would only need to be a small 3.5 tonne four-wheeled truck, to include the generator, fuel and living quarters for the engineer

We have made a lot of progress in twenty-five years.

A Modern Railway Locomotive

The power of this new Class 68 diesel locomotive, that was built in Spain, by Swiss company Stadler is a very healthy 2,800 kW.

Consider these facts about a Class 68 locomotive.

  • Thirty-four of these locomotives have been produced for the UK.
  • They are powered by a Caterpillar C175-16 engine, which weighs thirteen tonnes.
  • The transmission of these locomotives is electric, which means that the diesel engine drives a generator and the train is driven by electric traction motors.
  • The locomotive is equally at home hauling intermodal freight trains and passenger trains for Chiltern Railways or TransPennine Express.
  • According to Wikipedia, Class 68 locomotives comply with Stage III A of the European emission standards but not Stage III B. But that is much better than most of our noisy, smelly and polluting diesel locomotives.

Class 68 locomotives are members of the UKLight family of locomotives, which contains, these two other locomotives.

  • Already in service is the Class 88 locomotive, which is a bi-mode locomotive, which is capable of running on electrification or the on-board 0.7 MW diesel engine.
  • Under development is the Class 93 locomotive, which is a tri-mode 110 mph locomotive, which is capable of running on electrification, the on-board 0.7 MW diesel engine or battery power.

Stadler seem to be able to mix-and-match various power sources to provide versatile and highly-desirable locomotives.

I feel it would be feasible to design a railway locomotive with the following power sources.

  • 25 KVAC  overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification, providing up to perhaps the four MW of a Class 88 locomotive.
  • A Rolls-Royce gas-turbine generator running on aviation biofuel, providing up to perhaps three MW.
  • Batteries up to a weight of perhaps ten tonnes.

I am sure that it could handle many of the routes still run with diesel locomotives in the UK.

  • It would handle all locomotive-hauled passenger services and would be electric-only in stations.
  • It certainly solves the problem of hauling long intermodal freight trains between Felixstowe and the Midlands and the North.
  • To handle the heaviest stone and aggregate trains, it might need a more powerful generator, but I’m sure Rolls-Royce would oblige.

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I gave a list of routes, that would need to be handled by a battery electric locomotive.

  • Didcot and Birmingham – Around two-and-a-half hours
  • Didcot and Coventry – Just under two hours
  • Felixstowe and Ipswich – Around an hour
  • Haughley Junction and Peterborough – Around two hours
  • Southampton and Reading – Around one-and-a-half hours
  • Werrington Junction and Doncaster via Lincoln – Around two hours
  • Werrington Junction and Nuneaton – Just under two hours

Will Rolls-Royce’s generator be able to supply 2.5 MW for up to four hours?

This would need two-and-a-half tonnes of aviation biofuel, which would be around 3,200 litres, which could be carried in the 5,000 litre tank of a Class 68 locomotive.

It certainly seems feasible to replace diesel locomotives with gas-turbine locomotives running on aviation biofuel, to reduce net carbon emissions and reduce noise and pollution.

But this is not just a UK problem and many countries, who rely on diesel-hauled rail freight, would look seriously at such a locomotive.

Underfloor Mounting In Passenger Trains

These pictures show the space underneath a Hitachi Class 800 train.

The red cap visible in some pictures is the filler for the oil or diesel for the MTU 12V 1600 R 80L diesel engine used to power the trains away from electrification.

This diesel engine has this specification.

  • It produces 560 kW of power.
  • It weighs around six tonnes.
  • Its is about 4 x 2.5 x 1 metres in size.

The diesel engine produces about a fifth of the power as the gas-turbine generator, which is also smaller and very much lighter in weight.

It should also be noted, that a nine-car Class 800 train has five of these MTU diesel engines.

At a first glance, it would appear Hitachi could find one of Rolls-Royce’s gas-turbine generators very useful.

  • It might even enable self-powered high speed trains to run on lines without electrification at speeds well in excess of 140 mph.
  • I can certainly see, High Speed Two’s classic-compatible trains having one or possibly two of these generators, so they can extend services on lines without electrification.

We shouldn’t forget that one version of British Rail’s Advanced Passenger Train was to be gas-turbine powered.

A Class 43 Diesel Power-Car

Rolls-Royce would need a test-bed for a trial rail application of their 2.5 MW generator and there is probably no better trial vehicle, than one of the numerous Class 43 power-cars waiting to be scrapped. They could probably obtain a complete InterCity 125, if they wanted one for a realistic weight, test equipment and a second power-car for comparison and rescue.

But seriously, if we are going to remove diesel from UK railways by 2040, a solution needs to be found for the GWR Castles, ScotRail’s Inter7Citys and NetworkRail’s New Measurement Train.

One of the great advantages of these staggering (Rolls-Royce’s Chief Technology Officer’s word, not mine!) generators is that they are controlled by Full Authority Digital Engine Control or FADEC.

FADEC will give the pilots in a Hercules or other aircraft, all the precise control they need and I doubt Rolls-Royce will leave FADEC out of their gas turbine generator, as it would give the operator or driver extremely precise control.

A driver of a GWR Castle equipped with two gas-turbine power-cars, would be able to do the following.

  • Adjust the power to the load and terrain, with much more accuracy, than at present.
  • Shut the engines down and start them quickly, when passing through sensitive areas.
  • Cut carbon-dioxide emissions, by simply using a minimum amount of fuel.

I would put a battery in the back of the Class 43, to provide hotel power for the passenger coaches.

Running current MTU engines in the Class 43s, on biodiesel is surely a possibility, but that not an elegant engineering solution. It also doesn’t cut carbon emissions.

As there are still over a hundred Class 43s in service, it could even be a substantial order.

It should also be noted, that more-efficient and less-polluting MTU engines were fitted in Class 43s from 2005, so as MTU is now part of Rolls-Royce, I suspect that Rolls-Royce have access to all the drawings and engineers notes, if not the engineers themselves

But it would be more about publicity for future sales around the world, with headlines like.

Iconic UK Diesel Passenger Trains To Receive Green Roll-Royce Jet Power!

COVID-19 has given Rolls-Royce’s aviation business a real hammering, so perhaps they can open up a new revenue stream by replacing the engines of diesel locomotives,

A Class 55 Locomotive

Why Not?

A Class 55 locomotive is diesel electric and there are thousands of diesel locomotives in the world, built to similar basic designs, that need a more-efficient and more environmentally-friendly replacement for a dirty, smelly, noisy and polluting diesel power-plant.

Marine Applications

The Wikipedia entry for the Cat C175, says this.

The Cat C175 is often used in locomotives and passenger-class ships.

I suspect there will be marine applications for the gas-turbine generator.

Conclusion

I’m very certain that Rolls-Royce’s pocket power station has a big future.

Who said that dynamite comes in small parcels?

 

 

July 19, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

MagniX Electric Aircraft Engines Take To The Skies

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on pv magazine Australia.

This is the introductory paragraph.

No emissions, low-cost regional flights with just eight other sanitised folk and a disinfected pilot… Yes, Covid-19 is warping our view of the future, but the successful electrically powered maiden flight last week of a Cessna Caravan aircraft, offers the potential for new models of travel supporting wider distribution of commerce in Australia.

The article goes on to discuss Roei Ganzarski’s vision of what zero-emission electrically-powered aviation could do.

Economics

This is a paragraph from the article.

Its successful half-hour, 160km test flight used less than US$6 worth of electricity, compared to a Cessna Caravan powered by conventional combustion engine which would have sucked up some US$300-400 worth of fuel. And Ganzarski points out that, as in electric vehicles, the motor requires very little maintenance compared to its gas-guzzling cousins.

That is impressive.

The Market

This is a sentence from the article.

MagniX says 45% of all airline flights cover less than 800 km, while 5% of flights are sub-160 km, and it’s likely that commercial electric flights powered by magniX motors will first be offered in the UK, US or Europe.

I didn’t believe that the proportion of short flights was so high.

I could see all flights below 160 km (100 miles) will be flown by electric aircraft and a large proportion of those below (800 km (500 miles) going in the same direction.

The Vision

This is a paragraph from the article.

You could have phenomenal factories or businesses in these places that can’t currently sell their goods or can’t receive goods because the 4.5 to 6-hour truck drive that happens maybe once a week is just operatively prohibitive. If you could have an aircraft do that in 20, 40, 60 minutes and do it with zero emissions at a really low cost, and suddenly you’re really connecting these communities…

As it was given in quotes, I would assume it was spoken by Roei Ganzarski.

What would that do for high-quality agricultural products and seafood produced on remote islands.

This statement is in the Wikipedia entry for Loganair.

Loganair is planning to introduce electric aircraft to the Orkney Islands by 2021 due to the short distance between the islands that would make such flights possible.

They seem to be following a parallel path, with their involvement in Project Fresson. But as that development of a Britten-Norman Islander, is not planned to fly until 2022, could Loganair be a possible launch customer for an electric Cessna Caravan?

  • Loganair have the ideal short routes.
  • The electric Caravan won’t be the most difficult aircraft to certify for flying with a Supplemental Type Certificate, as several other Caravan variants with a change of powerplant, are flown this way.
  • The environmental profile fits some of Loganair’s routes in Scotland.
  • According to Roei Ganzarski, the economics would be ideal for Loganair’s routes.
  • Roei Ganzarski gave a long sales promotion-style interview on the BBC. Who was he targetting?

But the biggest factor is that Roei Ganzarski appears to be a showman in the mould of those great Victorian engineer/entrepreneurs, who defined and built much of the world we admire. What better stage is there to showcase his electric aircraft, but the remote airports served by Loganair?

The Specification

The Wikipedia entry for the Cessna Caravan now has s section for the electric Caravan, where this is said.

The eCaravan is an electric aircraft modification of the 208B built by AeroTEC and magniX powered by a 750 hp (560 kW) motor and a 1 t (2,200 lb), 750V lithium-ion battery. Its 30 min first flight happened from Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, on May 28, 2020, consuming $6 worth of electricity, needing 30-40 min of charging. The Magni500-powered variant can fly 100 mi (160 km) with 4-5 passengers while keeping reserve power, and aims for a certification by the end of 2021, hoping to operate 100-mile flights with a full load of nine passengers with better batteries.

The pv magazine Australia article says the flight was for 160 km (100 miles), so that would cover a lot of short routes.

Suppose with reserves, that the plane should have a one hour endurance. my experience of piloting aircraft leads me to estimate that the average power setting would be less than fifty percent of full power for a real flight, as cruise and descent, need a lot less power than climb.

This would mean, that the aircraft needs to take-off with around 280 kWh of fuel, which would be enough to power the motor at half-power for an hour.

In Sparking A Revolution, I comment on an article of the same name in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which talks about Hitachi’s plans for battery-electric trains.

This is an insert in the Rail Magazine article, which will apply to all applications with traction batteries. Including aviation!

This is said.

The costs of batteries are expected to halve in the next five years, before dropping further again by 2030.

Hitachi cites research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) which expects costs to fall from £135/kWh at the pack level today to £67/kWh in 2025 and £47/kWh in 2030.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI)  is also predicting that battery energy density will double in the next 15 years, from 700 Wh/l to 1,400 Wh/l in 2035, while power density (fast charging) is likely to increase four times in the same period from 3 kW/kg now to 12 kW/kg in 2035.

This page on the Clean Energy institute at the University of Washington is entitled Lithium-Ion Battery.

This is a sentence from the page.

Compared to the other high-quality rechargeable battery technologies (nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride), Li-ion batteries have a number of advantages. They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery technology today (100-265 Wh/kg or 250-670 Wh/L).

The highest figure of 670 Wh/l would appear to fit the Hitachi extract, where 700 Wh/l is quoted.

If I use the Wh/kg figure, it would appear that a one tonne battery could hold between 100 kWh and 265 kWh.

I suspect, that the higher figure would be enough to perform the 160 km. test flight, which I estimated could need 280 kWh.

But battery development in the next few years will be on the side of Roei Ganzarski’s vision.

Conclusion

Electric aircraft are not a politically correct mad idea, but a serious proposition to make the world a better place.

The article is a must-read!

June 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment