The Anonymous Widower

Trimode Class 93 Locomotives Ordered By Rail Operations (UK)

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Stadler and Rail Operations (UK) Ltd have signed a framework agreement for the supply of 30 Class 93 trimode locomotives, with an initial batch of 10 scheduled for delivery in early 2023.

Note that the order may have been a long time coming, but it is now for thirty locomotives. In this article on Rail Magazine from December 2018, which is entitled Rail Operations Fuels its Ambitions With Tri-Mode Class 93s, only ten locomotives were to be ordered.

A Few More Details

This article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled, Re-Engineering Rail Freight, gives a few more details about the operation of the Class 93 locomotives.

It says this about operation in electric mode.

In electric mode, the batteries are charged when braking or from the transformer. As the batteries use the space occupied by the braking resistors in the Class 88, when the batteries are fully charged, the locomotive has only its friction brake.

This about operation in diesel-hybrid mode.

In diesel/battery hybrid mode, the batteries are charged both as the train brakes and by the diesel engine when it is not operating under full load. When the train accelerates, the batteries give it the extra power needed to get up to speed. This is a significant benefit as accelerating a freight train of over 1,000 tonnes up to its operating speed can take several minutes.

This is said about the batteries and their effect on performance.

It has two Lithium Titanate Oxide liquid-cooled battery packs, which have a rapid charge and discharge rate. These each have a 40kWh capacity with a peak power of 200kW. Thus, whilst the train is accelerating, the Class 93 will have a peak power of 1,300kW for up to ten minutes, which is almost twice that of a Class 88 in diesel mode.

The batteries would appear to be quite small when you consider, that Vivarail are talking about 424 KWh in one of their Class 230 trains.

This is said about performance.

As a result, the 86-tonne Class 93 is capable of hauling 1,500 tonnes on non-electrified routes and 2,500 tonnes on electrified routes. With a route availability (RA) of seven, it can be used on most of the rail network.

It may not be the largest of locomotives, but it could have a very high performance.

I have a few thoughts.

Regenerative Braking Performance

The Rail Engineer  article says this about the Class 93 locomotive.

  • The train has a total of 80 kWh of battery storage to store braking energy.
  • The locomotive weighs 86 tonnes
  • It can haul 1,500 tonnes on non-electrified lines.

Using a train weight of 1586 tonnes and Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives a kinetic energy of 8 kWh at 42.6 mph.

Does this mean that the locomotive is designed to trundle around the countryside at around forty mph?

These are timings from Real Time Trains.

  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 40 miles – 60 minutes – 40 mph
  • Werrington Junction and Doncaster – 86 miles – 130 minutes – 40 mph
  • Werrington Junction and Nuneaton – 67 miles – 123 minutes – 32.7 mph
  • Southampton and Oxford – 74 miles – 120 minutes – 37 mph

There will be savings compared to the current diesel timings, with a Class 93 locomotive.

  • Either side of these sections, the locomotive can use electric power to cut pollution, noise and carbon emissions.
  • Stops and starts on sections without electrification will save diesel and cut carbon emissions.
  • The train will be faster on electrified sections.

I also feel that with its smaller diesel engine, it will be able to maintain similar timings to current trains hauled by Class 66, Class 68 and Class 70 locomotives.

It can haul 2,500 tonnes on non-electrified lines.

Assuming a train weight of 2586 tonnes, the train energy at various speeds is as follows.

  • 40 mph – 114 kWh
  • 60 mph – 258 kWh
  • 80 mph – 459 kWh
  • 100 mph – 718 kWh
  • 110 mph – 868 kWh

Am I right to assume that once the batteries are full, the regenerative braking energy can be returned through the catenary to power other trains?

Operation With 750 VDC Third Rail Electrification

Will some locomotives be fitted with third-rail shoes to work into and out of Southampton?

They would not need to use diesel between and Basingstoke.

Access To Ports And Rail Freight Terminals

I recently wrote Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe.

Looking in detail at Felixstowe and how trains will serve the port, this was my conclusion.

I very much feel, that the specification of the Class 93 locomotive with its trimode capability is ideal for working to and from ports and freight terminals.

Looking at the specification, I am certain, that these locomotives can haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe on diesel, with help from the batteries.

  • The distance without electrification is around fifteen miles.
  • It takes around thirty minutes.
  • It is fairly flat Suffolk countryside with the possible exception of the climb over Spring Road Viaduct.

The batteries would need to be charged and surely in Felixstowe’s case the best way would be to electrify the two single track access routes between Trimley station and the Port.

  • On leaving, the trains would pass Trimley with full batteries.
  • They could also be at line speed after accelerating using the two miles or so of electrification.
  • They could also enter the Port with full batteries, after charging the batteries on the short length of electrification.

The batteries may be large and powerful enough, to enable diesel free operations in the Port.

Does this partially explain the increase in the order for Class 93 locomotives? There’s not really been a genuine Last-Mile locomotive in the UK before.

Enabling Carbon-Free Ports And Rail Freight Terminals

Regularly, I read reports of ports wanting to do carbon-free.

Class 93 locomotives can help the process, by not using their diesel engines in ports and rail freight terminals.

It might just need a short length of electrification between the port or terminal and the main line, to make sure batteries are fully-charged.

But not at London Gateway!

This Google Map shows the couple of kilometres of track without electrification, that connects London Gateway to the electrified route through East Tilbury station.

London Gateway would appear to be ready for low or possibly zero-carbon access, using Class 93 locomotives.

High Speed Freight Trains

Consider.

  • These Class 93 locomotives will have an operating speed of 110 mph, when running on electrified lines.
  • Currently, many multimode freight trains run at speeds of under 90 mph, as Class 66 locomotives don’t have the power to go faster and the wagons carrying the containers have a lower speed limit.

So with new or refurbished wagons capable of travelling at 110 mph, there will be speed improvements in some containerised freight.

As an example of what happens on the UK rail network, at the present time, I have found a freight train that goes between Felixstowe and Coatbridge near Glasgow,

  • The route is via Ipswich, London, The North London Line and the West Coast Main Line.
  • It can weigh 1600 tonnes.
  • The distance is 483 miles.
  • The service takes around 16 hours.
  • With the exception of between Felixstowe and Ipswich, the route is fully electrified.

I estimate that if this service could run at up to 100 mph on the Great Eastern Main Line and up to 110 mph on the West Coast Main Line, that several hours could be saved.

Electrification Gap Bridging

As I indicated earlier, I believe these Class 93 locomotives will be able to haul a freight train out of Felixstowe to the electrified Great Eastern Main Line.

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I gave a list of typical gaps in the electrification in the UK.

  • 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

How many of these gaps could be bridged by a Class 93 locomotive working in a diesel hybrid mode?

Stadler have not confirmed the size of the battery, but have said that it can provide 400 kW of power, which gives a maximum of 1.3 MW, when the batteries are working as afterburners for the diesel engine!

If the article in Rail Engineer is correct, I feel there is a high chance, that a Class 93 locomotive can bridge these gaps, with a load of 1500 tonnes in tow.

It is worth looking at current timings between Haughley Junction and Ely, when hauled by a Class 66 locomotive.

  • The distance is around 40 mph
  • The time taken is around an hour.
  • A Class 66 locomotive would put 2.2 MW at the rail.

This locomotive could need up to 2.2 MWh to bridge the gap.

But I don’t believe that a forty mile gap will be impossible for a Class 93 locomotive.

  • Stadler will have all the performance data of the bi-mode Class 88 locomotive to draw on.
  • The Class 93 locomotive has regenerative braking to help charge the batteries at any stops.
  • Several of the large electrification gaps on the UK rail network are in the flat lands of East Anglia and Lincolnshire.
  • Modern control systems would be able to eke out the power of the batteries.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Stadler have had an objective to design a locomotive that can perform like a Class 66 locomotive for two hours.

Conclusion

If Stadler get the specification, performance and reliability of this locomotive right, they will sell a lot of locomotives for operations like these! And not just in the UK!

 

 

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Alstom Calls For Hydrogen Rail Fleets In The UK

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2View.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Alstom has called for a £10bn investment programme in UK rail and mass transit systems, through which it would like fleets of clean, zero emission hydrogen trains to replace pouting diesel alternatives.

Titled: The UK’s New Green Age; A Step Change in Transport Decarbonisation, the report states that 300-400 hydrogen trains could be launched simply with a like for like replacement of diesels and would deliver huge environmental benefits.

The report was released after recent research revealed that the UK is lagging behind surrounding countries in comparable infrastructure. For example, France has over double the number of mass transit systems as the UK, whilst Germany has four.

There is a rapidly developing argument between the proposers of hydrogen and battery trains.

Consider.

  • Both types of train can ve a straight replacement for diesel trains, often with very little modification to stations.
  • As both hydrogen and battery trains have electric traction, they could have improved performance, so tracks and signalling might need upgrades to make full use of that performance to provide a better service for passengers.
  • Hydrogen trains will need a refuelling strategy.
  • Hydrogen trains need to carry a large tank of hydrogen.
  • Battery trains may well need charging systems or extra lengths of electrification for charging.
  • The UK will have plenty of green hydrogen and zero carbon electricity.

I also believe that hydrogen and battery trains designed from scratch will be much better than conversions of existing stock.

Conclusion

I think the environment will win this argument.

I can see cost and local circumstances deciding, whether to use battery or hydrogen trains.

For instance, Ipswich and Norwich, where there are an electrified main lines, might become battery train hubs, whereas Middlesbrough, where there is a plentiful supply of hydrogen, might use hydrogen trains for local services.

January 14, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

North Dakota Coal Country Backlash Against Wind Energy Is Misguided, Wind Advocates Say

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Two counties in North Dakota coal country have passed policies aimed at banning wind power development — but federal studies show that abundant natural gas is chiefly to blame for the closure of coal-fired power plants.

It appears that the closure of 1151 MW Coal Creek power station in 2022, will cost almost a thousand jobs.

This is the downside of decarbonisation.

These two paragraphs give a flavour of the argument.

Coal country officials have said they’re not against wind power, but said the economic benefits of wind can’t begin to compare to the contributions, in jobs and tax revenues, to coal-fired power plants and the mines that supply them. Most jobs involving a wind farm come during construction.

“There will be a limited number of permanent jobs after the tower is up, if and when that happens,” said Buster Langowski, the Mercer County economic development director. Wind farms need only four or five employees to operate. “That’s not a lot of folks.”

It appears that the changeover needs to be better managed.

January 11, 2021 Posted by | Energy | , , , | Leave a comment

Foresight Partners With CNG Fuels To Deliver Carbon-Neutral UK Transport Network As Demand For Clean Fuels Grows

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release from the Foresight Group.

These four bullet points introduce the document.

  • Two Foresight investment funds have partnered with CNG Fuels to acquire and grow a strategic network of biomethane HGV refuelling stations across the UK
  • CNG Fuels is the UK’s dominant supplier of renewable biomethane compressed natural gas for the UK’s truck sector
  • Transport sector emissions accounted for 34% of UK emissions in 2019
  • Biomethane-refuelling technologies reduce carbon emissions by 80+% and lower operating costs and improve air quality.

This web page is the home page of the CNG Fuels web site.

Judging by the picture on the CNG Fuels have Waitrose as a customer.

It looks to me, that Foresight Group and CNG Fuels are companies to watch, as biomethane or renewable natural gas, produced from food waste could be a valuable alternative fuel to decarbonise trucks.

January 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fuel Cell Enabling Technologies, Inc. Announces First Major Customer, Signs Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Purchase of Fuel Cells for Locomotives

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Fuel Cell Enabling Technologies, Inc. (FCET), a start-up energy technology company that has developed a novel, low-cost solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system, has announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NextGenPropulsion, LLC (NGP) indicating NGP’s intent to purchase FCET fuel cells for NGP light-rail trains and freight locomotives. In addition to fuel cell orders, this would mean engineering collaboration between the two firms, each bringing its specific and considerable expertise to these projects.

I have been saying that hydrogen freight locomotives are certain to be ordered in a few years.

Hydrogen-powered freight locomotives, are in my opinion, the logical way of decarbonising rail freight.

January 5, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shooter Urges Caution On Hydrogen Hubris

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the January 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Vivarail Chairman Adrian Shooter has urges caution about the widespread enthusiasm for hydrogen technology. In his keynote speech to the Golden Spanner Awards on 27 November, Mr. Shooter said the process to create ‘green hydrogen’ by electrolysis is ‘a wasteful use of electricity’ and was skeptical about using electricity to create hydrogen to then use a fuel cell to power a train, rather than charging batteries to power a train. ‘What you will discover is that a hydrogen train uses 3.5 times as much electricity because of inefficiencies in the electrolysis process and also in the fuel cells’ said Mr. Shooter. He also noted the energy density of hydrogen at 350 bar is only one-tenth of a similar quantity of diesel fuel, severely limiting the range of a hydrogen-powered train between refuelling.

Mr. Shooter then made the following points.

  • The complexity of delivering hydrogen to the railway depots.
  • The shorter range available from the amount of hydrogen that can be stored on a train compared to the range of a diesel train.
  • He points out limitations with the design of the Alstom Breeze train.

This is the last paragraph.

Whilst this may have seemed like a challenge designed purely to promote the battery alternatives that Vivarail is developing, and which he believes to be more efficient, Mr. Shooter explained: ‘I think that hydrogen fuel cell trains could work in this country, but people just need to remember that there are downsides. I’m sure we’ll see some, and in fact we should because competition improves the breed.’

i think Mr. Shooter may have made several good points.

These are my thoughts.

Creating Green Hydrogen

I haven’t done an analysis of the costs of creating green hydrogen from electrolysis, but I have a feeling, that electrolysis won’t be the only way to create large amounts of carbon-free hydrogen, in a few years.

These methods are currently available or under development or construction.

  • The hydrogen tram-buses in Pau have a personal electrolyser, that provides hydrogen at 350 bar.
  • London’s hydrogen buses will be provided with hydrogen from an electrolyser at Herne Bay by truck. Will the trucks be hydrogen-powered?

Some industrial processes like the Castner-Kellner process create hydrogen as a by-product.

In Shell Process To Make Blue Hydrogen Production Affordable, I describe the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, which appears to be a way of making massive amounts of carbon-free hydrogen for processes like steel-making and cement production. Surely some could be piped or transported by truck to the rail depot.

In ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration, I describe how ITM Power and Ørsted plan to create the hydrogen off shore and bring it by pipeline to the shore.

Note.

  1. The last two methods could offer savings in the cost of production of carbon-free hydrogen.
  2. Surely, the delivery trucks if used, must be hydrogen-powered.
  3. The Shell Blue Hydrogen Process uses natural gas as a feedstock and converts it to hydrogen using a newly-developed catalyst. The carbon-dioxide is captured and used or stored.
  4. If the local gas network has been converted to hydrogen, the hydrogen can be delivered to the depot or filling station through that gas network.

I very much feel that affordable hydrogen can be supplied to bus, train, tram or transport depot. For remote or difficult locations. personal electrolysers, powered by renewable electricity, can be used, as at Pau.

Hydrogen Storage On Trains

Liquid hydrogen could be the answer and Airbus are developing methods of storing large quantities on aircraft.

In What Size Of Hydrogen Tank Will Be Needed On A ZEROe Turbofan?, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed for this ZEROe Turbofan.

I calculate that to carry the equivalent amount of fuel to an Airbus A320neo would need a liquid hydrogen tank with a near 100 cubic metre capacity. This sized tank would fit in the rear fuselage.

I feel that in a few years, a hydrogen train will be able to carry enough liquid hydrogen in a fuel tank, but the fuel tank will be large.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed to provide the same amount of energy as that carried in a full diesel tank on a Class 68 locomotive.

The locomotive would need 19,147 litres or 19.15 cubic metres of liquid hydrogen, which could be contained in a cylindrical tank with a diameter of 2 metres and a length of 6 metres.

Hydrogen Locomotives Or Multiple Units?

We have only seen first generation hydrogen trains so far.

This picture shows the Alstom Coradia iLint, which is a conversion of a Coradia Lint.

It is a so-so train and works reasonably well, but the design means there is a lot of transmission noise.

This is a visualisation of an Alstom Breeze or Class 600 train.

Note that the front half of the first car of the train, is taken up with a large hydrogen tank. It will be the same at the other end of the train.

As Mr. Shooter said, Alstom are converting a three-car train into a two-car train. Not all conversions live up to the hype of their proposers.

I would hope that the next generation of a hydrogen train designed from scratch, will be a better design.

I haven’t done any calculations, but I wonder if a lighter weight vehicle may be better.

Hydrogen Locomotives

I do wonder, if hydrogen locomotives are a better bet and easier to design!

  • There is a great need all over the world for zero-carbon locomotives to haul freight trains.
  • Powerful small gas-turbine engines, that can run on liquid hydrogen are becoming available.
  • Rolls-Royce have developed a 2.5 MW gas-turbine generator, that is the size of a beer-keg.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I wondered if the Rolls-Royce generator could power a locomotive, the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that there are several routes to a hydrogen-powered railway locomotive and all the components could be fitted into the body of a diesel locomotive the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

Consider.

  • Decarbonising railway locomotives and ships could be a large market.
  • It offers the opportunities of substantial carbon reductions.
  • The small size of the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator must offer advantages.
  • Some current diesel-electric locomotives might be convertible to hydrogen power.

I very much feel that companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins (and Caterpillar!), will move in and attempt to claim this lucrative worldwide market.

In the UK, it might be possible to convert some existing locomotives to zero-carbon, using either liquid hydrogen, biodiesel or aviation biofuel.

Perhaps, hydrogen locomotives could replace Chiltern Railways eight Class 68 locomotives.

  • A refuelling strategy would need to be developed.
  • Emissions and noise, would be reduced in Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations.
  • The rakes of carriages would not need any modifications to use existing stations.

It could be a way to decarbonise Chiltern Railways without full electrification.

It looks to me that a hydrogen-powered locomotive has several advantages over a hydrogen-powered multiple unit.

  • It can carry more fuel.
  • It can be as powerful as required.
  • Locomotives could work in pairs for more power.
  • It is probably easier to accommodate the hydrogen tank.
  • Passenger capacity can be increased, if required by adding more coaches.

It should also be noted that both hydrogen locomotives and multiple units can build heavily on technology being developed for zero-carbon aviation.

The Upward Curve Of Battery Power

Sparking A Revolution is the title an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is mainly an interview with  Andrew Barr of Hitachi Rail.

The article contains a box, called Costs And Power, where this is said.

The costs of batteries are expected to halve in the next 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 2030 and £47/kWh in 3030.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) are predicting that battery energy density will double in the next 15 years, from 700 Wh/l to 1400 Wh/l in 2-35, while power density (fast charging) is likely to increase four times in the same period from 3 kW/kg to 12 kW/kg in 2035.

These are impressive improvements that can only increase the performance and reduce the cost of batteries in all applications.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This infographic gives the specification of Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which they are creating in partnership with Hyperdrive Innovation.

Note that Hitachi are promising a battery life of 8-10 years.

Financing Batteries

This paragraph is from this page on BuyaCar, which is entitled Electric Car Battery Leasing: Should I Lease Or Buy The Batteries?

When you finance or buy a petrol or diesel car it’s pretty simple; the car will be fitted with an engine. However, with some electric cars you have the choice to finance or buy the whole car, or to pay for the car and lease the batteries separately.

I suspect that battery train manufacturers, will offer similar finance models for their products.

This paragraph is from this page on the Hyperdrive Innovation web site.

With a standardised design, our modular product range provides a flexible and scalable battery energy storage solution. Combining a high-performance lithium-ion NMC battery pack with a built in Battery Management System (BMS) our intelligent systems are designed for rapid deployment and volume manufacture, supplying you with class leading energy density and performance.

I can envisage that as a battery train ages, every few years or so, the batteries will get bigger electrically, but still be the same physical size, due to the improvements in battery technology, design and manufacture.

I have been involved in the finance industry both as a part-owner of a small finance company and as a modeller of the dynamics of their lending. It looks to me, that train batteries could be a very suitable asset for financing by a fund. But given the success of energy storage funds like Gore Street and Gresham House, this is not surprising.

I can envisage that battery electric trains will be very operator friendly, as they are likely to get better with age and they will be very finance-friendly.

Charging Battery Trains

I must say something about the charging of battery trains.

Battery trains will need to be charged and various methods are emerging.

Using Existing Electrification

This will probably be one of the most common methods used, as many battery electric services will be run on partly on electrified routes.

Take a typical route for a battery electric train like London Paddington and Oxford.

  • The route is electrified between London Paddington and Didcot Junction.
  • There is no electrification on the 10.4 miles of track between Didcot Junction and Oxford.

If a full battery on the train has sufficient charge to take the train from Didcot Junction to Oxford and back, charging on the main line between London Paddington and Didcot Junction, will be all that will be needed to run the service.

I would expect that in the UK, we’ll be seeing battery trains using both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification.

Short Lengths Of New Strategic Electrification

I think that Great Western Railway would like to run either of Hitachi’s two proposed battery electric trains to Swansea.

As there is 45.7 miles pf track without .electrification, some form of charging in Swansea station, will probably be necessary.

The easiest way would probably be to electrify Swansea station and perhaps for a short distance to the North.

This Google Map shows Swansea station and the railway leading North.

Note.

  1. There is a Hitachi Rail Depot at the Northern edge of the map.
  2. Swansea station is in South-West corner of the map.
  3. Swansea station has four platforms.

Swansea station would probably make an excellent battery train hub, as trains typically spend enough time in the station to fully charge the batteries before continuing.

There are other tracks and stations of the UK, that I would electrify to enable the running of battery electric trains.

  • Leeds and York, which would enable carbon-free London and Edinburgh services via Leeds and help TransPennine services. This is partially underway.
  • Leicester and East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – These two sections would enable EMR InterCity services to go battery electric.
  • Sheffield and Leeds via Meadowhall, Barnsley Dearne Valley and the Wakefield Line, which would enable four trains per hour (tph) between Sheffield and Leeds and an extension of EMR InterCity services to Leeds.
  • Hull and Brough, would enable battery electric services to Hull and Beverley.
  • Scarborough and Seamer, would enable electric services services to Scarborough and between Hull and Scarborough.
  • Middlesbrough and Redcar, would enable electric services services to Teesside.
  • Crewe and Chester and around Llandudno Junction station – These two sections would enable Avanti West Coast service to Holyhead to go battery electric.
  • Shrewsbury station – This could become a battery train hub, as I talked about for Swansea.
  • Taunton and Exeter and around Penzance, Plymouth and Westbury stations – These three sections would enable Great Western Railway to cut a substantial amount of carbon emissions.
  • Exeter, Yeovil Junction and Salisbury stations. – Electrifying these three stations would enable South Western Railway to run between London and Exeter using Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, as I wrote in Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints.

We will also need fast chargers for intermediate stations, so that a train can charge the batteries on a long route.

I know of two fast chargers under development.

I believe it should be possible to battery-electrify a route by doing the following.

  • Add short lengths of electrification and fast charging systems as required.
  • Improve the track, so that trains can use their full performance.
  • Add ERTMS signalling.
  • Add some suitable trains.

Note.

  1. I feel ERTMS  signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be used with automatic charging systems, to make station stops more efficient.
  2. In my view, there is no point in installing better modern trains, unless the track is up to their performance.

January 4, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arcola Energy, Consortium Of Rail Industry Leaders To Deliver First Scottish Hydrogen-Powered Train

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

The article describes the project to create a demonstrator hydrogen train for Scotland out of an old Class 314 train.

Note.

  1. Work will be needed on the interior.
  2. Is a three-car train long enough?
  3. Will the train still be able to use its pantograph?

The trains may be over forty years old, but they can probably made to look good, as they are closely related to these Class 508 trains, that are in superb condition on Merseyrail.

These trains were built in 1979 and are one of the oldest trains on the UK’s mainland network.

Wikipedia says this about the conversion to hydrogen.

In February 2020, ScotRail announced plans to convert one of the two remaining units, 314209, to run on hydrogen. This is a feasibility study running alongside ScotRail’s commitment to run no diesel trains by 2035.

The train will be displayed at the COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2021.

December 30, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

OptiFuel Systems Announces Natural Gas Freight Locomotive

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rail, marine and generator product supplier OptiFuel Systems has announced that it is ready to manufacture freight locomotives of 1 200 to 2 400 hp fuelled by biomethane and natural gas.

Other points from the article.

  • They are modifying a rail-certified Cummins engine, which has already been used in 12,000 trucks.
  • They are using a modular design, so different power outputs can be provided.
  • It appears they will provide kits to convert existing locomotives.
  • They have a US government grant to build a 4,400 hp or 3.3 MW main line locomotive that can run on renewable natural gas.

This is a quote from OptiFuel President; Scott Myers.

We think that in the next two years there will be a 50-state Low Carbon Fuel Standard programme that includes rail and an extension of the existing federal Alternative Fuel Credit program to include rail. These programmes, just as in trucking and aviation, will provide renewable natural gas to the railroads at a near zero cost and providing them the financial incentive to decarbonise their fleets over the next 15 years.

President Trump was not available for comment.

Renewable Natural Gas

This sounded to me, like the ultimate in greenwashing, when I saw it in this article. The Wikipedia entry for renewable natural gas defines it like this.

Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), also known as Sustainable Natural Gas (SNG) or Biomethane, is a biogas which has been upgraded to a quality similar to fossil natural gas and having a methane concentration of 90% or greater.

Wikipedia also says this about the creation of renewable natural gas.

The UK National Grid believes that at least 15% of all gas consumed could be made from matter such as sewage, food waste such as food thrown away by supermarkets and restaurants and organic waste created by businesses such as breweries. In the United States, analysis conducted in 2011 by the Gas Technology Institute determined that renewable gas from waste biomass including agricultural waste has the potential to add up to 2.5 quadrillion Btu annually, being enough to meet the natural gas needs of 50% of American homes.

In combination with power-to-gas, whereby the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide fraction of biogas are converted to methane using electrolyzed hydrogen, the renewable gas potential of raw biogas is approximately doubled.

Because of the carbon in the gas and its source, it would appear that it is net zero carbon, rather than the zero carbon of hydrogen. But it does appear, that it would be cheaper to produce than hydrogen.

Conclusion

The United States seems to be researching a route, that will allow them to decarbonise their rail-freight industry.

Application To The United Kingdom

Shown is a Class 66 locomotive.

They are a mainstay of freight in the UK, that are powered by a 3,300 hp diesel engine.

Unfortunately, they are not the most neighbourly of locomotives, which throw out quantities of various pollutants.

Could OptiFuel Systems supply a solution for these locomotives?

December 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Green Light For Fossil-Free Steel In Oxelösund

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Green light for fossil-free steel in Oxelösund The Land and Environment Court has decided to grant SSAB Oxelösund an environmental permit to convert its steelmaking operations and reduce carbon dioxide activities by 2025. This also means that we will take a step nearer towards fossil-free steel production across SSAB in 2045.

This is an historic decision in many ways. It is the first time that Oxelösund has applied for changes in production to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Use of sponge iron made through HYBRIT technology, together with scrap iron as feedstock instead of iron ore and coal, will enable SSAB to reduce emissions in Oxelösund by around 80%.

Hydrogen steelmaking processes are surely the future of steelmaking, as they can be made zero-carbon.

It will need a lot of hydrogen and I can see processes like Shell’s Blue Hydrogen Process being ideal to produce the hydrogen.

But will China and the other countries that produce cheap steel, turn to hydrogen steel-making?

December 23, 2020 Posted by | Business, Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today’s Rubbish, Tomorrow’s Jet Fuel

The title of this post, is the same as that of this feature article on Professional Engineering.

This is the opening paragraph.

One day, in the very near future, commercial aircraft will be fuelled by household rubbish. Yes, seriously.

It then goes on to describe the Velocys process for producing sustainable aviation fuel from household rubbish.

This paragraph explains, how it will change rubbish disposal.

Interestingly, Velocys won’t have to pay to obtain the waste. “We don’t buy it. We get paid to take it,” says Hargreaves. He explains how the supply chain starts with councils and businesses that are obliged to pay waste contractors to dispose of their waste. Those waste contractors then pay to incinerate the waste or send it to landfill sites. Velocys’s plant will simply act as an alternative disposal route.

The article is a very good explanation of one of the developments, that will shape the future of the world.

 

December 18, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment