The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive

Many of the long freight routes from Felixstowe and Southampton are hauled by diesel locomotives like the environmentally-unfriendly Class 66 locomotive.

Electric haulage can’t be used because of significant gaps in the 25 KVAC overhead electrification. Gaps and a typical transit time of a Class 66-hauled heavy freight train include.

  • 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

Would it be possible to design a battery/electric hravy locomotive, that could bridge these gaps?

Consider the following.

  • A Class 66 locomotive has a power output of around 2500 kW.
  • To run for two hours on battery would require a battery of 5000 kWh.
  • A 5000 kWh battery would weigh around fifty tonnes.
  • A Class 70 locomotive is a heavy freight diesel Co-Co locomotive with a weight of 134 tonnes with a full tank of diesel.
  • A Class 88 locomotive is an electro-diesel locomotive, that without the diesel engine weighs about 80 tonnes.
  • A Class 88 locomotive has a power output of 4,000 kW on 25 KVAC  overhead electrification

Putting this information together and I think it would be possible to design a battery/electric locomotive with the following specification.

  • 4000 kW on 25 KVAC  overhead electrification
  • Ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification
  • A 5000 kWh battery.
  • Ability to use a rapid charging system.
  • Two hour range with 2500 kW on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking to the battery.
  • Co-Co configuration
  • Dimensions, weight and axle loading similar to a Class 70 locomotive.

These are a few other thoughts.

Last Mile Applications

Ports and Container Terminals are often without electrification.

The proposed locomotive would be able to work in these environments.

A couple of yeas ago, I had a long talk with a crane operator at the Port of Felixstowe, who I met on a ytain going to football. He was of the opinion, that Health and Safety is paramount and he would not like 25 KVAC overhead electrification all over the place.

So if freight locomotives used battery power inside the port, most would be pleased.

The only cost for ports and freight terminals would be installing some form of charging.

Maximum Power On Batteries

I suspect that the maximum power on battery would also be the same as the 4,000 kW using 25 KVAC overhead electrification, as the locomotive may have applications, where very heavy trains are moved on partially electrified lines.

Diesel-Free Operation

The proposed lovomotive will not use any diesel and will essentially be an electric locomotive, with the ability to use stored onboard power.

Environmentally-Friendly Operation

Freight routes often pass through areas, where heavy diesel locomotives are not appreciated.

  • The proposed locomotive will not be emitting any exhaust or noxious gases.
  • Noise would be similar to an electric locomotive.
  • They would be quieter using battery-power on lines without overhead electrification, as there would be no pantograph noise.

I think on balance, those living by freight routes will welcome the proposed locomotive.

Would Services Be Faster?

This would depend on the route, but consider a heavy freight train going from Felixstowe to Leeds.

  • On the electrified East Coast Main Line, the proposed battery-electric locomotive would have a power of 4,000 kW, as opposed to the 2,500 kW of the Class 66 locomotive.
  • On sections without electrification, the locomotive would have more power if required, although it would probably be used sparingly.
  • The locomotive would have a Driver Assistance System to optimise power use to the train weight and other conditions.

I feel on balance, that services could be faster, as more power could be applied without lots of pollution and noise.

Creeping With Very Heavy Loads

I suspect they would be able to creep with very heavy loads, as does the Class 59 locomotive.

Class 59 Locomotive Replacement

The proposed locomotive may well be able to replace Class 59 locomotives in some applications.

Any Extra Electrification Will Be Greatly Appreciated

Some gaps in electrification are quite long.

For example, Didcot and Birmingham takes about two and a half hours.

  • Didcot is on the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Birmingham has a lot of electrified lines.

So perhaps there could be some extra electrification at both ends of busy freight routes.

Electrification between Didcot and Wolvercote Junction would be a possibility.

  • It would be about twelve miles
  • It is very busy with heavy freight trains.
  • The natives complain about the railway.
  • It would allow Great Western Railway to run electric trains to and from London.
  • If Chiltern Railways were to run battery-electric trains to Oxford, it would provide electrification for charging at Oxford.
  • Electrification could be extended to Oxford Parkway station to make sure battery-electric trains would get a good send-off to Cambridge

This simple example shows, why bi-mode and battery/electric trains don’t mean the end of electrification.

All vehicles; rail or road and especially electric ones, need to take on fuel!

I also think, that there is scope to electrify some passing loops, so that locomotives can top-up en route.

Conclusion

It would be a heavyweight locomotive with a performance to match.

I believe that such a locomotive would be a very useful addition to the UK’s fleet of freight locomotives.

 

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

2022 Opening For £80m Eden Project North Which Would Attract Up To 8,000 People A Day To Morecambe

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Lancaster Guardian.

This is the first paragraph.

The Eden Project North would open in autumn 2022 at a cost of £80m and attract up to 8,000 people a day to Morecambe – if planning and funding can be agreed.

Given the undoubted success of the Eden Project in Cornwall, I would be very surprised if this project doesn’t go ahead.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | World | , | 3 Comments

Arup Called In To Help New Zealand Run Ports And Trains On Hydrogen

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

This is the first paragraph.

UK consulting engineer Arup has been brought in to help design and deliver a hydrogen factory for New Zealand’s second largest port. Ports of Auckland said it plans to build a production facility to make the gas from tap water, which it will use to fuel ships, trucks, buses, cars and trains.

It is all part of the aim of making the port of Auckland, zero-carbon by 2040.

I think we’ll see other large self-contained sites like ports, airports, rail container terminals and large industrial complexes using hydrogen, as it may offer advantages over batteries in terms of range, lifting capacity and vehicle size and weight.

There is also no problem with the regular replacement of batteries in equipment like mobile cranes, which in New Zealand’s case will mean importing new ones.

I suspect, hydrogen may be more affordable to run than batteries for Auckland.

 

December 7, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Environmentally-Friendly Dry Cleaning

In the late-1960s, when I worked for ICI, the company was very worried about the effect of dry-cleaning chemicals on the health of workers and was constantly looking for better chemicals.

I suspect as that was fifty years ago, that the dry-cleaning process itself is very much more envionmentally friendly.

But look at these trousers, that I have just brought back from the dry cleaners.

There are two things wrong with the packaging.

The awful wire coat hangers, which are a nuisance to deal with and go straight in the bin.

The plastic wrapping over the top, which I assume is not recyclable.

Years ago in Suffolk, we had a man who collected and returned our bed linen from the laundry, once a week. I can’t remember the company, but I hope they’re still going, as they did an excellent service.

They then started doing dry cleaning and they gave you the choice of having it on hangers or neatly folded in tissue paper.

I remember we chose the latter, as it was so much more convenient.

C would then put things that needed a hanger on proper wooden ones.

With the worries around plastic getting into the oceans, surely we should stop this needless wrapping of dry cleaning with plastic and fold things neatly in tissue paper!

I look forward to seeing a dry-cleaners, that says that we don’t use plastic!

November 25, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

19MW Storage Capacity To Participate In Three UK Flexible Markets

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Smart Energy.

in Batteries On The Boil As Fund Attracts Investors, I talked about energy storage funds, which are a way of investing in energy storage to add capabilities to electricity grids.

This article talks about how the Gore Street Energy Fund is investing in two energy storage facilities at the Port of Tilbury and Lower Road in Essex

I have also found this article on Solar Power Portal, which is entitled Gore Street Fund Makes New Battery Acquisitions With New 19MW Pair From Origami Energy.

The second article has a picture of a 4 MW/4.8 MWh Tesla battery at Cenin Renewables.

The link to Tesla gives a well-presented page of applications of these batteries.

One example given is Renewable Integration, where this is said.

Smooth and firm the output of a renewable power generation source such as wind or solar.

This will be a large application for these types of large batteries, as although we don’t have masses of sun, we do have a lot of wind.

Big financial institutions like Pension Funds and Insurance Companies need secure long term investment to place their money and these energy storage devices, would appear to offer a sensible return, that enables them to pay their investors, like anybody who has a pension. Traditionally,these financial institutions have invested in property and government bonds for example.

Lately, they have been investing in railway rolling stock, which have a life of up to forty years. These energy storage systems should offer a reasonable life, if well-maintained and updated.

As there will large numbers of energy  storage systems installed in the UK in the next decades, I think they could be a big area for investment.

At an individual level, we will also see houses built or refurbished with solar panels and batteries.

We are at the start of an exciting revolution!

 

November 24, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morecambe’s Eden Project North To Feature Giant ‘Mussel’ Pavilions

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

A new Eden Project will feature five giant mussel-shaped domes inspired by local marine life, plans have revealed.

Morecambe’s Eden Project North will include “performance spaces, immersive experiences and observatories”, the charity behind plans for it has said.

The Eden Project, which runs the Cornish attraction of the same name, said the new site would also feature “re-imagined lidos” and gardens.

It appears that the next stage is to obtain the funding.

I must admit, that I was sceptical about the Eden Project in Cornwall, when it was announced in the late 1990s. But it is now a popular visitor attraction, which attracted over a million visitors iin 2017.

 

 

 

 

November 23, 2018 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Large Hydropower Dams ‘Not Sustainable’ In The Developing World

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

This is the first four paragraphs.

A new study says that many large scale hydropower projects in Europe and the US have been disastrous for the environment.

Dozens of these dams are being removed every year, with many considered dangerous and uneconomic.

But the authors fear that the unsustainable nature of these projects has not been recognised in the developing world.

Thousands of new dams are now being planned for rivers in Africa and Asia.

I think the report has a sound basis and we should think much deeper before we build a large dam.

Storing energy and preventing of floods are probably good reasons, whereas others are not, considering, that solar and wind power are becoming more affordable.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fish Fingers Surprisingly Sustainable, Say Conservationists

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

When I first saw this headline, I was surprised and cynically felt that this was some put up job paid for by the producers of fish fingers or the Fish Fingers Appreciation Society.

But it appears that the research was done by the Marine Conservation Society.

This is the first paragraph of their Wikipedia entry.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK’s leading marine environment, not-for-profit organisation. It works for the increased protection of the seas around the United Kingdom, via the creation of well managed marine protected areas. It works with fishermen and industry to find more sustainable ways of fishing and with retailers and consumers to buy and choose more sustainable seafood. It involves volunteers to carry out hundreds of beach cleans and surveys annually whilst also working with water companies and local communities to ensure UK bathing waters are of an excellent standard

I think that and other facts in the entry, prove that we can take the BBC report at face value.

Incidentally of their list of the top fifteen fish fingers rated for sustainability, at least two were gluten-free.

Usually, coeliacs and others who are gluten-free are left out of the results.

My last thought, is that why if we can make fish fingers surprisingly sustainable, can’t we do that for other foods?

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

Charging Battery/Electric Trains En-Route

One big need with a battery/electric hybrid train, is the need to charge the batteries quickly at a station stop.

On my last trip to Sheffield, I timed the stops from brakes on to moving again of the Class 222 train.

Times in minutes:seconds were as follows.

  • Leicester 1:30
  • Louthborough 1:15
  • East Midlands Parkway 1:06
  • Long Eaton 1:08
  • Derby 1:22
  • Chesterfield 1:09

So it looks like there is only a minute to charge the batteries on a typical Inter-City service.

Would it be much longer on say a long rural service like Settle and Carlisle or Inverness to Wick?

I don’t think so!

So how could we top up the train in a station stop of less than a minute.

Plug The Train Into a Power Socket

This may work with electric cars, but if you think it would work with trains and charge them in a minute, then think again!

Using A Pantograph

This may seem to be the obvious way, but to raise the pantograph, get a reasonable charge into the train’s batteries and lower it again, is an awful lot of things to cram into a minute.

There’s also many things that can go wrong.

Vivarail’s Solution

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article entitled Scotland High Among Vivarail’s Targets for Class 230 D-Trains, Vivarail’s solution to charging a battery-powered Class 230 train is disclosed.

A prototype rapid charging facility at its Long Marston base would use short sections of third-rail to quickly recharge a Class 230’s batteries. He said that the third-rail shoegear fitted to the trains in their London Underground service could handle higher currents than simply plugging a cable into the train.

The rapid charging concept consists of a shipping container of batteries that are trickle charged from a mains supply. When a Class 230 sits over the short sections of third-rail, electricity can be quickly transferred to the train’s batteries. When the train is away, the power rails are earthed to ensure they pose no risk The concept provides for charging a Class 230 as it pauses at a terminus before making its return journey.

What surprises me, is the claim, that third-rail is such an effective way of charging the batteries.

But then a Class 92 locomotive has a power of 4,000 kW when running on 750 VDC third rail electrification, so it would appear third-rail systems can handle large amounts of power.

This would be the sequence, as a train performed a station stop.

  1. The driver would stop the train at the defined place in the platform, as thousands of train drivers do all over the world, millions of times every day.
  2. Once stopped, the contact shoes on the train would be in contact with the third rail, as they would be permanently down and ready to accept electricity at all times.
  3. The charging system would detect the stationary train and that the train was connected, and switch on the power supply. to the third-rail.
  4. Electricity would flow from the track to the batteries, just as if the train was on a standard third-rail electrified track.
  5. If the train’s battery should become full, the train’s system could stop the charging.
  6. When passengers had finished leaving and joining the train and it was safe to do so, the driver would start the train and drive it to the next station, after ascertaining, that there was enough power in the batteries.
  7. When the charging system determined that the train was moving or that the contact shoe was no longer connected to the third-rail, it would immediately cut the power to the rail and connect it to earth.

It is a brilliant system; simple, efficient and fail-safe.

  • Regenerative braking will mean that stopping in the station will help to top-up the batteries.
  • The battery on the train is being charged, as long as it is stationary in the station.
  • Delays in the station have no effect on the charging, except to allow it for longer if the battery can accept more charge.
  • The driver concentrates on driving the train and doesn’t have to do anything to start and stop the charging.
  • As there is no cable to disconnect or pantograph to lower, disconnection from the charging system is automatic and absolute, when the train leaves.
  • The charging system never exposes a live rail to passengers and staff.

As a Control and Electrical Engineer, I believe that developments of this system, could be able to put at least 200 kWh into the train’s batteries at each stop.

The system could also be independent of the driver, whose only actions would be to check on safety, that charging was proceeding as it should and that there was sufficient charge in the batteries before continuing.

Connection And Disconnection To The Third-Rail

These pictures taken at Blackfriars station, show how the ends of the third-rail is tapered, so that the shoe on the train connects and disconnects smoothly.

Note.

  1. The tapered ends of both rails on opposite side of the gaps.
  2. For safety, the electrified third-rail is on the other side of the track to the platform.
  3. One picture shows how yellow-painted wood is used for extra safety.

As a train is always on top of the third-rail, when the power to the rail is switched on in Vivarail’s charging system, I think that, the system should be very safe.

Battery-To-Battery Energy Transfer

Vivarail’s genius is to transfer the energy from trackside batteries to the batteries on the train. As batteries have a low impedance, large amounts of electricity can be passed quickly.

Batteries, Supercapacitors Or Both?

I believe that in a few years time for many applications, supercapacitors  will be a viable alternative to batteries.

Energy densities are improving in supercapacitors and they have a similar low impedance, which will enable fast transfer of electricity.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to supercapacitors used on trains or in charging systems.

It may be that a mix of supercapacitors and batteries is the optimal solution.

Installing A Vivarail-Style Charging System

Installation of a Vivarail-style charging system would require.

  • A length of third rail to be installed alongside the track or tracks in the station.
  • The containerised batteries and control system to be installed in a suitable place.
  • Electrical power to be connected to the batteries and control system.
  • Appropriate-cabling between the rail and the container.

The great advantage is that to install a charging system in a station would not require any of the complicated and expensive works, often needed to install 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Supplying Electricity To A Vivarail-Style Charging System

The Rail Magazine article talks of trickle charging the track-side batteries, using mains electricity, but I suspect some of the most cost-effective systems would use solar, wind or water power, backed up by a mains supply.

In a remote station, installing a Vivarail-style charging system powered by a sustainable power might be an opportunity to install modern low-energy lights and other equipment at the station, powered from the charging system.

A Vivarail-Style Charging System Could Be Built With No Visual Intrusion

Another advantage of using Vivarail-style charging systems, is that there is less visual intrusion than traditional continuous 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Some visual intrusion would be down to the shipping container used to house the batteries.

But if necessary, the batteries could be housed in a classic Victorian outhouse or a modern sympathetically-designed structure.

Would A Vivarail-Style Charging System Need To Be In A Station?

Many, but not all charging systems would be in stations.

However, there are some very convenient places for charging systems, that may not be in stations.

Trains going to Bedwyn station wait for several minutes  in a turnback siding to the West of the station, before returning to London. The route is not electrified and bi-mode Class 800 trains will be used on the route, because there is about thirteen miles between Bedwyn and Newbury without electrification.

If a Vivarail-style charging system were to be added to the turnback siding battery/electric trains could work the service to London. I’m sure Hitachi know how to convert a version of a Class 80x train to battery/electric operation.

There will be quite a few places, where for operational reasons, a charging system could or should be placed.

Would All Stations On A Route Need To Be fitted With A Vivarail-Style Charging System?

This would depend on the route and the need to run it reliably.

Detailed computer modelling would show, which stations wouldn’t need to be fitted with charging systems!

If a train was a limited-stop service or not required to stop at a particular station because of operational reasons or the timetable, the train would just pass through the station.

As it didn’t stop, it would not have caused the charging system to switch on power to the third-rail.

But if say due to delays caused by an incident meant a train was low on battery power, there is no reason, why the train can’t make a stop at any charging system to top-up the batteries.

Should The Driver Have Any Control?

Consider.

  • It may be extra safety is needed, so the driver could  give a signal to the charging system, that it is safe to start the charging process.
  • Similarly, the driver should be able to pause or stop the process at any time.

But the driver would mainly be monitoring an automatic process.

Would The Charging System Be Linked To The Signalling?

I think this could be likely, as this could add another level of safety.

Conclusion

I believe it is possible to design a safe charging system using proven third-rail technology and batteries or supercapacitors to transfer at least 200 kWh into a train’s batteries at each stop.

Surely, this method of electrification could be used to allow electric trains to run through environmentally-sensitive areas and World Heritage sites like Bath, the Lake District and the Forth Bridge,

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Grimshaw Working On New Eden Project In Morecambe

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Architect’s Journal.

The Eden Project in Morecambe does seem to have the look of a serious project.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment