The Anonymous Widower

Clean Air Power Adds Hydrogen To Class 66 Fuel Mix

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the International Rail Journal.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Fuel injection technology developed by Clean Air Power that enables a class 66 locomotive to run on a combination of diesel, biogas and hydrogen has successfully completed nine months of trials with British freight operator Freightliner.

This is the first time that the injection technology has been tested by the rail freight sector and, according to Clean Air Power, paves the way for reducing the emissions of other class 66 locomotives.

Note.

  1. There are 450 Class 66 locomotives in service in the UK, with more in service in Europe.
  2. Freightliner was Clean Air Power’s main project partner.
  3. Nothing was disclosed about carbon savings.
  4. The trial was backed by £400,000 of Government money.
  5. The locomotive has completed a nine month trial.

This would appear to be a good professional start to decarbonisation of rail freight.

It’s also rather ironic, that this successful trial of a diesel-saving locomotive was announced on the day of Vlad the Mad’s big parade.

May 9, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Hydrogen-Electric Class 99 Locomotive

In GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I introduced the Class 99 locomotive, for which the first order was announced by Stadler and GB Railfreight yesterday.

This was the start of that post, which I wrote in early March 2022.

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

GB Railfreight is planning to order a fleet of main line electro-diesel locomotives with a modular design which would facilitate future replacement of the diesel engine with a battery or hydrogen fuel cell module.

In this post, I will look at the design of a Class 99 locomotive running on hydrogen.

These are my thoughts.

Using Hydrogen Fuel Cells

The Railway Gazette article suggests that hydrogen fuel-cells will be used to create a hydrogen-electric Class 99 locomotive.

A typical hydrogen fuel-cell transmission will have the following elements, which will replace the diesel-electric generator.

  • A hydrogen fuel tank
  • A appropriately-sized hydrogen fuel-cell which generates electricity from hydrogen.
  • A battery to store electricity.
  • Regenerative braking will also be used to charge the battery.
  • The locomotive will have an electric transmission.

The various components will be fitted into the space, that was occupied by the diesel engine.

This Alstom video promotes the Alstom Coradia iLint and explains how it works.

Most hydrogen fuel-cell trains and trucks , work as the train does in this video.

Using A Reciprocating Engine Running On Hydrogen

This press release from Caterpillar is entitled Caterpillar to Expand Hydrogen-Powered Solutions to Customers.

It describes how Caterpillar will develop versions of their reciprocating engines, that will run on 100 % hydrogen.

This would be an alternative way of developing a zero-carbon Class 99 locomotive.

Note that Cummins, JCB and Rolls-Royce mtu have also converted diesel engines to run on hydrogen.

This method of conversion has advantages.

April 30, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Chiltern Class 68 Locomotive At Marylebone Station

As I was passing through Marylebone station, I took these pictures of a very clean Class 68 locomotive.

If I’m going to Birmingham, I generally use Chiltern, as often you get to travel in one of these well-restored Mark 3 coaches hauled by a Class 68 locomotive.

With the Mark 3 coach, you get a full size table and a large window to enjoy the countryside.

  • The Class 68 locomotives were all built by Stadler in Spain, within the last ten years.
  • The UK has a fleet of 34 Class 68 locomotives.
  • They are powered by a Caterpillar diesel engine.
  • The only problem with the trains is that the Class 68 locomotives are diesel.

But is Caterpillar working on a simple solution?

Search the Internet for “Caterpillar Hydrogen” and you find press releases and other items, like this press release, which is entitled Caterpillar to Expand Hydrogen-Powered Solutions to Customers.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out, that Stadler and Caterpillar were working on a program to provide a solution to convert Class 68 locomotives to hydrogen.

April 10, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Timber Freight Train Runs For First Time In 18 Years

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Network Rail has partnered with Colas Rail in a pilot project to run a timber freight train for the first time in 18 years.

A sawmill in Abergavenny has received the first rail-transported timber since 2004 which was transported 92 miles from Hackney Yard near Newton Abbot.

I do wonder how many other specialised freight trains like these could be run.

As it was only 320 tonnes on eight wagons, it was probably hauled by a diesel Class 66 or Class 70 locomotive.

If there were hydrogen-powered locomotives available, would this encourage more companies to switch from road to rail.

It also appears that for this movement, Network Rail had strengthened a bridge. Are there enough yards, where heavy trucks can access the railway?

Timber Imports

With the situation in Ukraine, I wondered if we imported any timber from Russia, that could perhaps be replaced by locally-grown timber.

I found this page on the Forest Research web site from the UK Government, which is entitled Origin Of Wood Imports.

Our biggest timber imports from Russia are wood pellets and plywood.

Wood pellets are an obvious import, as we also import large amounts from the United States and Canada and all three countries have extensive forests and I suspect they all produce large amounts of woody waste, that is only suitable for making into pellets.

Are we recycling scrap wood and woody waste, as best we can in the UK or are we just burning it on bonfires? The guy opposite lost a tree in the recent storms and a tree surgeon came with a special truck and a shredder to reduce it to small pieces of woody waste. Did that go to make pellets for Drax and other boilers that burn them?

It strikes me, that there may be opportunities For creating or enlarging our own wood pellet industry to cut imports.

Plywood comes mainly from China (37 %), Brazil (18 %), Finland (9 %) and Russia (8 %). Of these, I suspect only one has good environmental standards.

As this softwood plywood for lower-grade applications only needs wood from trees, that we can grow in this country, perhaps we should make a lot more in automated plants.

I’m sure Network Rail would be happy to arrange the transport.

February 25, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Agreement Will Drive Rail Decarbonisation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Porterbrook.

This is the important part of the press release.

Rolls-Royce is teaming up with Porterbrook to identify and develop technological innovations to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality across the rail network. The two companies, who have signed a memorandum of understanding, will investigate the potential for the use of synthetic and net zero fuels, including hydrogen, both in fuel cells and internal combustion engines. Building on their recent success of jointly introducing hybrid battery-diesel railcars into passenger service, the two companies will also explore the potential for advanced hybridisation.

The relationship also includes considering the role of the wider rail ecosystem in decarbonisation, including fuel chain supply, infrastructure and operational models that can aid innovation and the transition to net zero.

The UK’s railway accounts for approximately 1% of all domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions* and the Government’s ambition is to remove all diesel-only trains – both passenger and freight – from the network by 2040 and achieve a net zero rail network by 2050. The UK Government has identified a number of different routes to this target including alternative forms of power such as hydrogen, fuel cells, batteries, hybrid-electric and sustainable fuels.

Rolls-Royce have issued a similar press release.

I believe this agreement could result in significant benefits to the UK rail industry, in respect to reduction in diesel consumption, noise and carbon emissions.

Examples could include.

Unfortunately, I can’t add more examples as there is no Porterbrook fleet list on their web site.

February 14, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Talgo To Begin Fuel Cell Loco Trials

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Trials are to begin shortly with the TPH2 fuel cell test locomotive developed by Talgo as part of its hydrogen traction programme. This forms part of a low-carbon research and development strategy which is being supported by a green hydrogen supply alliance and financing from the European Investment Bank.

The TPH2 loco has been produced by fitting fuel cells and traction batteries to the Travca L-9202 ‘Virgen del Buen Camino’ prototype multi-system and variable gauge locomotive which was built by Talgo in 2005.

This page on the Talgo web site describes the Travca locomotive like this.

Travca: Traction Without Borders

Travca is a locomotive that stops at nothing; not at different power supplies, track gauges nor signalling systems all of which makes Travca Talgo’s most advanced development in the field of traction.

This is the specification of the electric locomotive from the Talgo web site.

  • Operating speed – Up to 250km/h (passenger version)
  • Configuration – Bo-Bo
  • Track gauge (mm) -1435-1668
  • Length (m) – 19400
  • Bodyshell width (mm) – 2950
  • Unladen weight (tonnes) – 72 (passenger version)
  • Number of axles – 4
  • Power – 2,400 kW (25kV, 50Hz) / 2,000kW (3kV dc)
  • Brakes – Regenerative, rheostatic and air brakes

Notes.

  1. It is a variable-gauge and variable-voltage locomotive.
  2. 1435 mm is standard gauge
  3. It is lighter and wider than a Class 90 locomotive.

It does seem to be the basis of a very useful locomotive.

This article on Railway News is entitled University Of Extremadura To Work With Talgo On Its Hydrogen Train, says this about the test train.

During the first stage of the hydrogen train project, Talgo is developing the necessary engineering for the assembly and commissioning of hydrogen traction in a test train. The train will comprise a Talgo Travca MS locomotive, which can change gauges and run under different electrification systems, and five Talgo hauled cars that will house the hydrogen fuel cell system. One of the cars will be a laboratory car.

This would appear to be an experimental train with the hydrogen power station in four of the coaches.

It also appears that Extremadura is developing a hydrogen infrastructure.

Applications In The UK

The obvious application in the UK, is as a Class 66 diesel locomotive replacement, for some of the light to medium duties.

The Class 66 locomotives have a power of 2400 kW, which could be within the range of the Talgo locomotive.

In LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, I speculated that Talgo, with all their experience of high speed trains might like to bid for the extra ten trains, that LNER requires.

They could be ideal to allow electric trains to run between London and Aberdeen and Inverness.

  • The Travca locomotive running on electricity could certainly handle 140 mph between London and Edinburgh.
  • The power requirements North of Edinburgh would be less, as speeds would be lower.
  • Ranges on hydrogen would be under two hundred miles.

It would be a flagship service for both LNER and Talgo.

 

 

February 7, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Penmaenmawr Quarry Rail Terminal Opens

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Hanson has reopened its Penmaenmawr railhead in north Wales, as part of its strategy to reduce vehicle movements and associated CO2 emissions.

The quarrying company has spent £300 000 refurbishing the facility, including upgrades to the railhead conveyor which was last used in 2012. The first trial service was operated by GB Railfreight and transported stone to the Tuebrook depot near Liverpool to test the equipment and uncover any operational issues within the quarry and at the railhead.

The aim is to one one train per week between North Wales and North West England.

This Google Map shows the Penmaenmawr railhead.

Note.

  1. Penmaenmawr station is in the top right corner of the map.
  2. The railhead is in the bottom-left corner of the map.
  3. The North Wales Expressway is between the railway and the beach.

There is a conveyor leading to the South and this second Google Map shows the vast quarry complex.

Penmaenmawr station is in the top right corner of the map.

It does appear to me, that this is a good move by Hanson.

  • If the quarry can be worked economically, it is surely worthwhile exploiting.
  • Opening new quarries, is generally not an easy process.
  • Even using diesel locomotives on the aggregate trains, probably saves carbon compared to trucks.
  • Closing the quarry would probably not be good for the area.
  • They only want to run one train per week.
  • I wonder, if the train goes through the Halton Curve that opened a couple of years ago.
  • Penmaenmawr and Tuebrook Sidings are a route of about eighty miles.

But I think in the future it could be a very good move, as at least one of three things will happen.

  • The North Wales Coast Line will be electrified.
  • Someone will develop a hydrogen-electric freight locomotive.
  • Wabtec will develop their battery-electric locomotive for the UK with a UK-sized FLXdrive battery.

All possibilities will help Hanson lower the carbon footprint of the route.

Given too, that Hanson will probably decarbonise their quarrying operations by using hydrogen-powered equipment, it should be possible to arrange a hydrogen supply at Penmaenmawr.

 

January 18, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rio Tinto Orders Wabtec FLXdrive Battery Locomotives To Reduce Emissions

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Wabtec.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Wabtec Corporation (NYSE: WAB) and Rio Tinto announced today an order for four FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives to support sustainable operations of the mining company’s rail network in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The 100-percent, battery-powered locomotive will help Rio Tinto’s effort to achieve a 50-percent reduction in Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2030.

Some other points from the press release.

  • The locomotives have 7 MWh batteries.
  • The first locomotive will be delivered in 2023.
  •  The FLXdrive is anticipated to reduce the company’s fuel costs and emissions in percentage by double digits per train.

This paragraph describes how the FLXdrive locomotives will be used.

The mining company plans on using the locomotives in multiple applications including as a shunter in the railyard and ultimately in mainline service. In mainline operations, Rio Tinto currently uses three diesel-electric locomotives in a consist to pull trains with 240 cars hauling about 28,000 tons of iron ore. The FLXdrives will transition from the diesel locomotives in mainline service to form a hybrid consist, and recharge during the trip through regenerative braking and at charging stations. Wabtec’s next generation energy-management software system will determine the optimal times to discharge and recharge the batteries along to route ensuring the most fuel-efficient operation of the entire locomotive consist during the trip.

I can see this approach leading to even bigger fuel and emission savings.

Especially, if Wabtec developed a compatible locomotive, that was powered by hydrogen.

This was rumoured in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh, where a partnership between Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU), Genesee & Wyoming and Wabtec to create the Freight Rail Innovation Institute was described.

Conclusion

There certainly seems to be a consensus between some of the world’s largest mining and rail companies about the  future of heavy freight trains to support the mining industry.

 

 

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Trains On Their Way To Power One Of The World’s Most Abundant Mining Regions

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

It is a comprehensive article, with maps, pictures and background information about the project I wrote about in Anglo American And Aurizon Look To Hydrogen-Powered Trains, that will create hydrogen-powered freight locomotives for Australia.

It should be noted that Aurizon operates a few hundred diesel-electric locomotives, so switching to hydrogen, would probably cut a lot of carbon emissions.

December 29, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will We See Class 43 Power Cars Converted To Hydrogen?

To say that the Class 43 power cars of the InterCity 125 trains are iconic is rather an understatement.

Note.

They were built by British Rail in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

  • They have an operating speed of 125 mph.
  • They are now powered by a modern MTU 16V4000 R41R diesel engine after being re-engined earlier this century.
  • They have an electric transmission.

According to Wikipedia, there are over a hundred and twenty in service.

At the back of the power car there is a lot of space, as this picture shows.

This press release from Rolls-Royce is entitled Rolls-Royce Launches mtu Hydrogen Solutions For Power Generation.

These are the introductory bullet points to the press release.

  • From 2022 mtu Series 500 and Series 4000 ready for 25% hydrogen
  • From 2023 mtu engines and conversion kits available for 100% hydrogen

And what engine is there in a Class 43 power car? – It’s an MTU 16V4000 R41R diesel engine.

Is it an mtu Series 4000 engine?

If it is, there is space in the back of the power car for the hydrogen tank and the diesel engine can be converted to run on hydrogen, Rolls-Royce have everything they need break the speed record for hydrogen-powered trains. After all power cars; 43102 and 43159 hold the diesel-train speed record at 148 mph.

That would be some Roller.

December 24, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | 9 Comments