The Anonymous Widower

Is This The New Look For Eviation’s Alice?

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

Eviation Alice certainly looks different in their picture.

It (or is it she?) is shown with a T-tail, two engines and a different undercarriage.

The article says the aircraft could fly this year, and be certified in 2023.

January 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Faradair’s BEHA Hybrid Aircraft Boosted By Partnerships

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Faradair, the UK company developing a hybrid-electric short takeoff and landing aircraft for applications including regional airline service, on Thursday announced four new risk-sharing partners. Honeywell, MagniX, Cambridge Consultants, and Nova Systems, have all signed up to contribute to the development of the Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA), which is expected to enter service in 2026.

Some points from the article.

  • The aircraft is bio-electric as it is powered by a small gas-turbine generator, which drives a contra-rotating ducted fan, through a pair of electric-motors.
  • It has a quick-change interior, that can handle 18 passengers or five tonnes of cargo.
  • Range is given as 1,150 miles, with a service ceiling of 14,000 feet and a speed of up to 230 mph.

The Faradair web site gives other useful data.

  • Wingspan is 57 ft.
  • Length is 48 ft. 2 in.

The article also discloses an innovative way of marketing the aircraft, which looks to me, like a modern update to how the company I helped found; Metier Management Systems, leased Artemis project management computer systems, several decades ago.

Comparison With Eviation Alice

I must compare the Faradair BEMHA with the Eviation Alice.

The Alice can carry nine passengers.

  • It cruises at 276 mph.
  • Range is 620 miles
  • Service ceiling is 12,500 ft.
  • Wingspan is 52 ft. 11 in.
  • Length is 43.3 ft.

The Alice would appear to be slightly smaller, with a shorter range.

  • If you look at the pictures of the two aircraft on the Faradair and Eviation Alice web sites, you will see that they are radical designs.
  • The Eviation Alice is fully electric, whereas the Faradair BEHA has a hybrid engine based on a small gas turbine running on aviation biofuel.
  • Both aircraft use MagniX electric motors.
  • Both aircraft fit into defined segments of the aviation market.

I very much believe that we’ll be seeing more unusual zero-carbon and carbon-neutral aircraft designs in the next few years.

A few thoughts.

Battery-Electric or Gas Turbine?

The Eviation Alice is solely powered by a battery, whereas the Faradair BMHA uses a hybrid engine based on a small gas turbine running on aviation biofuel.

Airbus built an experimental aircraft called the Airbus E-Fan X. This aircraft was to have used a gas-turbine and a battery. The aircraft was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So Faradair seem to be going a similar route to Airbus.

The AINonline article says this about Honeywell’s involvement.

Honeywell will support Faradair in producing a turbogenerator based on its gas turbine and generator technologies that is able to run on sustainable aviation fuel. The U.S. aerospace group will also contribute to other systems for BEHA, including avionics and flight controls.

According to Wikipedia, Honeywell certainly have lots of experience of small gas-turbine engines. They also make large numbers of auxiliary power units for aircraft.

The big disadvantage of the battery approach, is surely the weight of the battery, which needs to be large to have enough energy for the flight.

  • But electric power also restricts the aircraft to airports with recharging facilities. This must reduce the flexibility of the aircraft.
  • And also what happens after a diversion caused by weather, a passenger becoming unwell or some other circumstance, where the aircraft ends up at an airport with no handling for electric aircraft?

But with an aircraft that only needs sustainable aviation fuel, it can be filled up from a bowser used for small airliners and business jets.

If you want to be zero-carbon perhaps it would be better to fuel the gas-turbine with hydrogen.

Airbus seem to have come to that conclusion with their future plans, that I wrote about in ZEROe – Towards The World’s First Zero-Emission Commercial Aircraft.

I have a feeling that both Airbus and Faradair have shown, that to get enough range and for convenience, sustainable aviation fuel or hydrogen is better.

Nine Or Eighteen Seat?

Regulation has made nine- and nineteen-seats into niche markets and each developer is concentrating on a particular market.

  • An airline that uses small airliners like Loganair, actually has aircraft in both groups.
  • I suspect other airlines have similar mixed fleets.
  • Cape Air, who are the lead customer for the Alice, only fly nine-seat aircraft.

The customer has a choice depending on the size of aircraft he needs.

Short Take-Off And Landing Capability

I have flown as a passenger several times in small airliners with a capacity of up to nineteen seats.

  • Usually, they have been in a Cessna Caravan or Britten Normand Islander.
  • In a couple of cases, the trip has involved a take-off or landing on a short or grass runway.
  • Additionally, I have over a thousand hours in command of a Cessna 340, where I used a lot of short runways.

I would feel that as a lot of small airports have short runways, that a short take-off and landing capability would be a necessity for a small airliner.

Versatility

This Faradair press release is dated December 17th, 2020.

This paragraph details the aircrafts versatility.

The ambition is to deliver an initial portfolio of 300 Faradair®-owned BEHAs between 2026-2030, in the largest proof of concept air mobility programme ever created. Of these, 150 aircraft will be built in firefighting configuration, 75 as quick change (QC, passenger to cargo) aircraft, deployed at general  aviation airfields globally, and 50 as pure freighters. The final 25 aircraft will be demonstrated in non-civilian government roles, including logistics, border and fisheries patrol, and drug interdiction.

Note.

I particularly like the quick-change variant.

As 125 aircraft can be used for freighters, has one of the large parcel carriers expressed an interest?

I must admit, I’m surprised that 150 aircraft will be needed in a firefighting configuration.

To be continued…

 

 

December 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

magniX, Sydney Seaplanes And Dante Aeronautical Partner For World’s First All Electric Cessna Caravan STC Program

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

This sub-title defines their objective.

Global leader in electric propulsion technology to work with leading charter and integrator companies in Australia and the South Pacific to provide electric aircraft.

Note.

  1. An STC is a Supplemental Type Certificate, which is added to the aircraft’s type certificate, to allow it to be flown, after a major modification, such as a different power plant or a structural modification, such as a cargo door or aerodynamic modification.
  2. In the case of the Cessna Caravan, the gas turbine engine is being replaced by an electric motor and batteries.
  3. Over 2, 600 Cessna Caravans have been built.

This picture shows the Cessna Caravan in which I flew in Kenya.

I look forward to flying in an electric Caravan!

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside A $4 Million Electric Plane, The First Full-Size, All-Electric Passenger Aircraft In The World

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

Watch the video and think. Is it Alice in Wonderland?

I am looking forward to my first flight in an all-electric aircraft.

November 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – South Fylde Line Passing Loop

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The Project

This project is described on this page on the web site of the Fylde MP; Mark Menzies, which is entitled Improving The South Fylde Rail Line.

The page lists that these improvements are needed.

Track And Stations

These improvements are listed for track and stations.

The bid involves laying around three miles of track between Lytham and St Annes stations, the creation of a new rail platform at Ansdell and Fairhaven Station, the installation of signalling along the line, and potential platform changes at Preston Station. There is scope for improvements to St Annes and Lytham Stations, should Network Rail decide it would rather include those stations within the passing loop – but that would be decided further along the process.

Services

The objective is to be able to run two trains per hour (tph) between Preston and Blackpool South stations.

Trains

Better trains are needed.

It certainly looks like the Pacers have already gone.

The Route

I shall describe the current route in this section.

Blackpool South Station

The Google Map shows Blackpool South station.

Note.

  1. Entrance to the station is from Waterloo Road, which runs East-West across the map.
  2. There are a pair of bus stops by the station entrance.
  3. There is a lot of car parking close to the station.
  4. I suspect that the single platform can hold a modern eighty-metre four-car train.
  5. This seventy-year-old has no difficulty waking to the football ground or the Blackpool trams from the station.

With two tph and some updated facilities, this would be a very useful station.

I suspect there is even space to add a second platform in the future, if that were felt to be necessary.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Station

This Google Map shows Blackpool Please Beach station and the nearby Pleasure Beach.

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of this station. One beautiful late summer Saturday, I was going to see Ipswich play at Blackpool and out of curiosity I had explored the train to Colne station. In those days a decade ago, Colne and Blackpool South was one service and the train from Colne was full of families, by the time it got to Preston. A large proportion, left the train at the Pleasure Beach.

The conductor told me, that the crowds, I had witnessed weren’t untypical.

Squires Gate Station and Blackpool Airport

This Google Map shows Squires Gate station and the nearby Blackpool Airport.

Blackpool Airport after a troubled few years seems to be finding a niche market, with a few business, commercial, offshore and training flights.

But I believe that airports like Blackpool in the future can develop another large niche – electric aviation.

Getting to places like Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and Wales by a nineteen-seat electric airliner will need the following.

  • As short a flight as possible.
  • Close to the coast would help.
  • Good public transport links. Blackpool Airport has both tram and train.
  • Space for aircraft to be parked, whilst charging.
  • Plentiful supplies of renewable electricity. The over-300 MW Burbo Bank Wind Farm is not far away in Liverpool Bay and it will only be joined by more and larger wind farms.
  • Frequent public transport.

Blackpool Airport could tick all these boxes, with a thick green marker.

Some example direct distances from Blackpool include

  • Aberdeen – 238 miles
  • Amsterdam Schipol – 340 miles
  • Belfast City – 128 miles
  • Cardiff – 165 miles
  • Dublin – 134 miles
  • Edinburgh – 150 miles
  • Exeter – 211 miles
  • Geneva – 661 miles
  • Glasgow – 155 miles
  • London Gatwick – 220 miles
  • London Heathrow – 192 miles
  • London Southend – 219 miles
  • Newcastle – 89 miles
  • Paris Orly – 422 miles
  • Isle of Man Ronaldsway – 68 miles
  • Southampton – 208 miles

These distances fit nicely with the range of the nine-seater Eviation Alice electric aircraft, which is predicted to be 620 miles.

St. Annes-on-the-Sea Station

This Google Map shows St. Annes-on-the-Sea station.

Note.

  1. Blackpool is to the North-West and Preston is to the South-East
  2. St. Annes-on-the-Sea is one of those convenient single-platform stations, where you just walk in-and-out on the level.
  3. The passing loop would start on the Preston side of the bridge.

There would need to be no major infrastructure work at the station, although I would expect the facilities could do with a makeover.

Ansdell And Fairhaven Station

In Should The Blackpool South Branch Be Electrified?, I said this about improvements to Ansdell and Fairhaven station.

Ansdell and Fairhaven station is nearest to the course at Royal Lytham.

    • The Open Championship is a very important event on the golfing calendar.
    • Other important golfing events are also held on the course
    • Royal Lytham and St.Annes, last held the Open in 2012 and 2001. So it might come back to Royal Lytham in the mid-2020s.

Ansdell and Fairhaven station used to have two platforms, as described in Wikipedia.

The station was set out as an island platform with tracks on both faces until the singling of the line in the 1980s. Trains now only use the southern face. A disabled access ramp now covers the northern part of the station.

So could a rebuild of the station do the following?

    • Restore two platforms on an island at the station.
    • Put in full disabled access.
    • Create a passing loop.
    • Longer platforms might be a good idea.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

    1. The disabled ramp winding away.
    2. The platform is probably about a hundred metres long.
    3. It would appear that there is space at the far end to extend the platform.

I suspect that an ambitious architect with vision, could design a station that met all objectives.

It could be the best Championship Golf Course railway station in the world.

Lytham Station

This Google Map shows Lytham station.

Lytham station will be the Eastern end of the loop and it is likely, that the single-track will change to double at the Western end of the station.

As with St. Annes-on-the-Sea station, I suspect that a good makeover, will be all that will be needed.

Moss Side Station

This Google Map shows Moss Side station.

The only problem here is the level crossing, so do Network Rail want to remove it?

Kirkham And Wesham Station

This Google Map shows Kirkham and Wesham station.

There are three platforms, which from bottom to top on the map are.

  • Platform 1 – Trains to Blackpool South
  • Platform 2 – Trains to Blackpool North
  • Platform 3 – Trains to Preston

All platforms seem to be being electrified in these  pictures. that I took during construction.

Note.

  1. It can’t be described as a station, built down to a small budget.
  2. In the captions to the pictures, I’ve numbered the platforms from left to right.
  3. The last picture looks down Platform 1 and there is an electrification gantry at the Preston end.

Could this comprehensive electrification be so that trains to Blackpool North can use both Platforms 1 and 2?

  • This would allow overtaking of say a local train by a London express.
  • Trains could also be turned back in Platform 1, before the end of its journey, if there was a problem.
  • The electrification is also substantial enough for the longest Class 390 trains.
  • It could even accommodate a classic compatible High Speed Two train.

So does the last point, mean that Blackpool North station is a possible High Speed Two destination? Provided, the platforms at Blackpool North station are long enough, I think it does!

This Google Map shows Kirkham West Junction, where trains to Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations diverge.

Note.

  1. The electrification gantries and their shadows can be seen.
  2. Preston is to the South-East and the route is fully-electrified.
  3. Blackpool North is to the North-West and the route is fully-electrified.
  4. Blackpool South is to the West. The double-track becomes single before Moss Side station.

This picture shows the route going off to Blackpool South.

I took the picture from a train going to Blackpool North station.

So why are wires being run along the first few hundred metres of the Blackpool South Branch?

The Timetable

Currently, trains take the following times to do these journey legs.

  • Run between Ansdell and Fairhaven and Blackpool South stations – 12 minutes
  • Turnback at Blackpool South station – 3 minutes
  • Run between Blackpool South and Ansdell and Fairhaven stations – 11 minutes

As the trains will be running every thirty minutes and the three legs total twenty-six minutes, that means there’s four minutes float.

So hopefully, it should be easily stainable, by an experienced rail timetable creator.

The Trains

I have remarked that I find the electrification at Kirkham & Wesham station, both comprehensive and slightly unusual.

Could The Electrification Have Been Designed For Battery Electric Trains To Blackpool South Station?

But there is one very plausible reason for the electrification layout – The Blackpool South Branch has been designed, so that services on the branch can be rum using battery trains.

  • The distance between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South stations is just over eleven miles.
  • So for a round trip a range of perhaps twenty-five miles on battery power would suffice.
  • There would also be a need for a few minutes of hotel power, whilst waiting at Blackpool South station.

These power needs are well within the capabilities of the average battery train.

  • Trains could be charged on the nine minute run  between Preston and Kirkham & Wesham stations.
  • Changeover between electrification and battery power would take place in Kirkham & Wesham station.

An ideal train would surely be CAF’s four-car battery electric version of the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

  • According to an article in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same name, these trains will be working between Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Class 331 trains without batteries will be running to and from Blackpool North station.
  • Four-car trains are probably the right size for the route.

There would also probably be no need for a charging station at Blackpool South station, if trains could leave Kirkham & Wesham station with a full battery.

Where Would The Trains Terminate In The East?

These would be the obvious choices.

  • Blackburn – Where there is a convenient bay platform.
  • Colne – Where they used to terminate!
  • Liverpool – Merseyrail has the trains and Liverpool has lots of punters and the imagination.
  • Preston – Where they do now!
  • Skipton – If the Skipton-Colne Link is built!

My money would be on Skipton, using a new Skipton-Colne Link, for the following reasons.

  • Politicians of all colours and roses are in favour.
  • Skipton has an electrified route to Leeds.
  • Skipton-Colne would be a valuable by-pass route during the building of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Battery-powered trains would be ideal for Skipton-Colne.

Would A Battery Electric Train Be Feasible Between Blackpool South And Liverpool?

Consider.

  • An all-stations service would complement the fast service between Liverpool Lime Street and Blackpool North stations via St. Helens, Wigan North Western and Preston.
  • The service could either go between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk or Southport and a reinstated Burscough Chord.
  • The Ormskirk route is 15 miles of unelectrified line and the Southport route is just four miles further.
  • A service via Southport would need to reverse at Southport station.
  • The service would be run using dual-voltage Class 777 trains fitted with batteries.
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification, is already  installed between Preston and Kirkham & Wesham stations,
  • Using existing electrification, trains would leave Kirkham & Wesham, Ormskirk, Preston and Southport stations with full batteries.
  • A coastal service between Blackpool and Liverpool would surely attract visitors.
  • Liverpool and Blackpool are the two biggest urban areas on the coast.
  • There are several golf courses on the route, including three courses that have held the Open; Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

It may be a bit fanciful. But.

  • Merseyrail will have the trains.
  • Liverpool has the potential passengers.
  • I believe the route could handle a two tph service.
  • In Reopen Midge Hall Station, I showed that it was possible to run a two tph service between Liverpool and Preston, with one tph via each of Ormskirk and Southport.

Liverpool also has bags of ambition and imagination.

Would A Battery Electric Train Handle Preston And Skipton?

I estimate that this route is forty-one miles, with a stiff rise from Rose Grove to Colne station.

So would a battery electric train be able to handle this distance?

Hitachi are talking 56 miles for their Regional Battery Train, so I suspect CAF would want and need to be competitive with a similar specification.

Perhaps the logical service would be to run between Leeds and Blackpool South.

  • The service would go via Preston, Blackburn, Burnley Central, Colne and Skipton.
  • Leeds and Skipton is electrified.
  • Preston and Kirkham & Wesham is electrified.
  • No extra chargers for trains would be needed.

The only new infrastructure needed would be the Skipton and Colne Link.

Electrification Between Preston And Blackburn

Consider.

  • In Colne – Skipton Reopening Moves Closer, I talked about the proposed Huncoat Rail Fright Terminal, that could be built North of Blackburn on the East Lancashire Line.
  • Blackburn is a major hub for passenger services.
  • An electrified Blackburn would allow Manchester and Clitheroe to be run by battery electric trains. Clitheroe is ten miles and Bolton is thirteen.
  • An electrified Blackburn would allow Blackburn and Manchester Victoria via the Todmorden Curve to be run by battery electric trains. The whole route is 39.5 miles.
  • It may be possible for battery electric trains to reach Leeds via Hebden Bridge, as it is only fifty miles away, which is within Hitachi’s range.
  • As the Blackburn area grows, there will be more pressure for a daily London service.
  • Some think, the Calderdale route should be electrified.
  • Preston and Blackburn stations are just twelves miles apart.
  • There is a multiple unit depot at Blackburn.
  • I also feel that battery electric trains fanning out from Blackburn, wouldn’t do the town’s image any harm.

For all these reasons, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a short stretch of electrification added between Preston and Blackburn.

Conclusion

I like this proposal and it could be a big asset to trains across the Pennines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Distributed Propulsion ‘Maybe The Only Means’ For Small Electric Flight Progress

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Institute of Mechanical Engineers web site.

If you want to fly again, then this article offers pointers to how you might do it.

The E-Fan X Airliner

It gives this latest information on the E-Fa X airliner being tested by Rolls-Royce and Airbus.

Amid the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rolls-Royce and Airbus cancelled flight tests of their E-Fan X airliner, a promising project that could have provided vital data on issues such as thrust management and electric systems at altitude.

Does that mean cancelled or scrapped?

2.5 MW From A Beer Keg-Sized Generator

This paragraph could be important.

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

This picture shows a Class 66 locomotive.

The locomotive has a 2,460 kW diesel engine and an electric transmission.

I just wonder, if Rolls Royce’s high-powered small generator could replace the large, noisy and smelly diesel engines in these locomotives.

If the technology worked there are 455 of the noisy locomotives.

Snowballing Improvements

The article has a section with this title and it talks about how electric power may lead to other advantages.

Conclusion

Electric aircraft are more promising, than many think!

 

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Can A Green Revolution Really Save Britain’s Crisis-Stricken Aerospace Industry?

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

This is the sub-title.

The Prime Minister has set a challenging target of green flights within a generation, but is it a sustainable plan?

I have read the whole article, which is mainly about Velocys and their project at Immingham to create aviation biofuel from household rubbish.

They say the main problem is scaling up the process to get enough jet fuel. When I was working at ICI in the early 1970s, modelling chemical processes, scale-up always loomed-large as a problem.

Nothing changes!

I think we’ll get to our carbon-neutral objective, for aviation, but it will be a mixture of things.

  • Aviation biofuel.
  • All-electric airports.
  • Efficient aerodynamics and engines.
  • Electric short-haul aircraft.
  • Rail substitution for short flights.

Traditional aerospace must reform itself or die!

As to Velocys, they must solve their scaleup problem, so that all suitable household and industrial rubbish ends up doing something more useful, than beinmg incinerated or nuried in landfill.

July 5, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

James Bond Stunt Pilot’s Electrifying Flight

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A James Bond stunt pilot has completed the first electric-powered flights from a UK airport in an aircraft capable of carrying passengers.

The aircraft was a modified Piper Malibu.

  • They can carry a pilot and five passengers.
  • They are single-engined.
  • Some are powered by piston engines and some by turboprops.
  • Over 1,200 of different variants have been produced and the aircraft is still in production.

Tragicilly, the footballer; Emiliano Sala, died in a Piper Malibu.

Zeroavia, the company, who seem to be behind this flight, in my view seem to be on the right track. The Zeroavia Hyflyer, has its own section in the Wikipedia entry for the Piper Malibu. This is the first sentence.

ZeroAvia, a Cranfield University partner, is a U.S./UK startup developing a Hydrogen fuel cell power train targeting to halve a turbine operating costs.

Roei Ganzarsky, who is CEO of magniX, who are a company, who make efficient electric motors for aviation, appears to very much believe that electric aircraft will be cheaper to run.

June 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 5 Comments

Honeywell Launches Lightweight Cooling System For Electric Aircraft

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Flight Global.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Honeywell Aerospace has unveiled a lightweight, low-maintenance cooling system for developers of urban air mobility (UAM) and electric aircraft, and has named the Eviation Alice as launch platform for the energy-efficient feature.

I particularly like the comment of Eviation’s founder Omer Bay-Yohay’s comment of “Every ounce counts!”.

But although weight is important in an electric aircraft, like the Eviation Alice, it is also important in other forms of transport from a family runabout to a high-speed train. Especially, if the vehicle is powered by batteries.

It should also be noted, that Honeywell are setting up a specialist business unit to provide equipment for and help the builders of electric aircraft.

Conclusion

Other companies will follow Honeywell’s lead and produce lightweight equipment for the automotive and rail industries.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment