The Anonymous Widower

Caterpillar, Cummins Move On Hydrogen For Trains

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

This is the first paragraph.

Caterpillar and Cummins are working separately to put hydrogen to work in locomotives.

They have a lot to lose with the extinction of their diesel businesses, so why not join the party.

September 13, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Let The Diving Under Begin!

The page on the Network Rail web site is entitled Network Rail Completes Major Signalling Work Near Peterborough Ready For Freight Trains To Begin Diving Under East Coast Main Line This Winter.

The Network Rail web page gives details of the innovative techniques used to build and insert the dive-under.

This Network Rail picture shows the dive-under going under the East Coast Main Line from the North East.

It certainly looks to be strongly constructed.

Freight Trains Through The Werrington Dive-Under

I have just counted the number of freight trains that would have used the route had it been open last Friday between 0600 and 2400.

It was twenty-seven trains or almost one train per hour (tph) in each direction.

  • How long will it be before the residents of Lincoln and the other towns and cities on the route start protesting about the noisy, smelly and polluting Class 66 locomotives, that haul most of these freight trains?
  • The long trains will also annoy drivers and residents at the many level crossings on the route.

Operators may not be able to do much about the train length, but they can start looking for some more environmentally-friendly locomotives, which could be hydrogen-powered.

At least there is funding for a lower-emission dual-dual-fuel locomotive, that I wrote about in Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.

September 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Comings And Goings At Ely Station

On my meander around the Fens yesterday, I spent twenty minutes or so at Ely station, as the variety of trains came through the station, whilst I waited for a train to March.

Ely and the surrounding lines are to be remodelled, so that more trains can pass through the complicated junctions.

I had hoped to see a freight train pass through, which would have used the avoiding lines to pass the station.

In some ways, Ely sums up the problems of some of our major railway junctions.

  • Several important passenger services needing to pass through.
  • Several long freight trains a day.
  • Level crossings everywhere.
  • More passenger services are needed.

And on top of it all, there is a need to decarbonise.

British Rail and Network Rail have been trying to sort Ely for decades and it should be noted that the Fen Line to King’s Lynn station was electrified in 1992, which was probably an early phase of their master-plan.

Ely And Battery-Electric Trains

These are the distances without electrification on the various routes from Ely.

  • Ipswich – 39 miles
  • Norwich – 52 miles
  • Peterborough – 30.5 miles
  • Wisbech – 25 miles

Routes to King’s Cross, King’s Lynn, Liverpool Street, Stansted Airport and Stevenage are all fully electrified.

It does appear to me, that the new generation of battery-electric should be able to handle services from Ely on battery power.

For many of these services, which are or will be run by Greater Anglia, the required battery range can be achieved by swapping some of the diesel engines in the Class 755 trains for batteries.

Freight And Hydrogen Power

In Was This The Most Significant Statement On Freight Locomotives Last Week?, I referred to this press release from Freightliner, which is entitled Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.

This sixth paragraph from the press release is very significant.

This sustainable solution will support a programme to decarbonise freight operating companies’ diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that does not require significant short-term investment and facilitates operational learning in support of a longer-term fleet replacement programme, potentially using 100% hydrogen fuel.

I believe the paragraph indicates, that Freightliner and possibly the other companies involved in the building and operation of heavy freight locomotives have concluded, that the technology is now such, that a zero-carbon rail locomotive powered by 100 % hydrogen is now possible.

Hydrogen offers several advantages.

  • Large amounts of power.
  • Range comparable with diesel locomotives.
  • Depots and freight terminals can be without electrification.
  • As hydrogen-powered locomotive will most likely have an electric transmission, this opens the possibilities of using electrification where it exists and regenerative braking to an onboard battery.

My unreliable crystal ball says that we’ll see hydrogen-powered locomotives by 2026.

 

August 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What Does 2.5 MW Look Like?

This press release on the Rolls-Royce web site is entitled Rolls-Royce Generator Delivered For Most Powerful Hybrid-Electric Propulsion System In Aerospace.

This Rolls-Royce picture shows the generator installed on a test bed.

These are the first three paragraphs of the press release.

The generator that will be at the heart of the most powerful hybrid-electric aero power and propulsion system in aerospace has arrived for installation at our specialist testbed.

The generator, and related power electronics, was delivered to the newly-renovated Testbed 108 in Bristol, UK, from the Rolls-Royce facility in Trondheim, Norway, having completed an extensive development test programme. It will form part of the 2.5 megawatt (MW) Power Generation System 1 (PGS1) demonstrator programme, for future regional aircraft. In addition to hybrid-electric propulsion, the generator could also be used as part of a “more-electric” system for larger aircraft or within future ground or marine applications.

PGS1 forms an important element of our sustainability strategy, which includes developing innovative electrical power and propulsion systems.

I must say that as an engineer this 2.5 MW generator really excites me, as I see so many possibilities.

  • I am fairly certain, that the generator can be powered by hydrogen, to create a true zero-carbon power generator.
  • Rolls-Royce mention aerospace, ground and marine applications.
  • The physical size must be an advantage, when it comes to some applications.
  • The gas-turbine technology at the heart of the generator has been well-proven in the Lockheed Super Hercules.

But I do note in the press release that there is no mention of hydrogen or rail for which the generator must be eminently suitable.

  • Rolls-Royce subsidiary; mtu are one of the leading companies, who power large rail locomotives.
  • 2.5 MW is ideal for many rail locomotives.
  • The small size must help integration into a rail locomotive.
  • My calculations show that the generator and a hydrogen tank could be fitted into a typical modern rail locomotive.
  • As electric transmissions can be used, the locomotive could also use electrification.

A lot of these arguments would also apply to the very large trucks used in the mining industries and ships of various sizes.

Conclusion

This Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW Generator will have lots of applications.

July 30, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Will Zero-Carbon Freight Trains Be Powered By Battery, Electric Or Hydrogen Locomotives?

These are a few initial thoughts.

We Will Not Have A One-Size-Fits-All Solution

If you consider the various freight and other duties, where diesel locomotives are used, you get a long list.

  • Light freight, where perhaps a Class 66 locomotive moves a few wagons full of stone to support track maintenance.
  • Intermodal freight, where a Class 66 locomotive moves a long train of containers across the country.
  • Stone trains, where a Class 59 or Class 70 locomotive moves a very heavy train of aggregate across the country.
  • Empty stock movements, where a diesel locomotive moves an electrical multiple unit.
  • Supporting Network Rail with trains like the New Measurement Train, which is hauled by two diesel Class 43 power cars.
  • Passenger trains at up to and over 100 mph.

I can see a need for several types of zero-carbon locomotive.

  • A light freight locomotive.
  • A medium freight locomotive, that is capable of hauling many intermodal trains across the country and would also be capable of hauling passenger services.
  • A heavy freight locomotive, capable of hauling the heaviest freight trains.
  • A Class 43 power car replacement, which would probably be a conversion of the existing power cars. Everybody loves InterCity 125s and there are over a hundred power cars in regular service on railways in the UK.

There are probably others.

The UK Hydrogen Network Is Growing

Regularly, there are news items about companies in the UK, who will be providing green hydrogen to fuel cars, vans, buses, trucks and trains.

Hydrogen is becoming a fuel with a much high availability.

The UK Electricity Network Is Growing And Getting More Resilient

We are seeing more wind and solar farms and energy storage being added to the UK electricity network.

The ability to support large numbers of battery-electric buses, cars, trucks and trains in a reliable manner, is getting more resilient and much more comprehensive.

There Will Be More Railway Electrification

This will happen and installation will be more innovative. But predicting where electrification will be installed, will be very difficult.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Now Have Rivals

Hydrogen fuel cells are normally used to convert hydrogen gas to electricity.

But over the last few years, alternative technology has evolved, which may offer better methods of generating electricity from hydrogen.

Fuel cells will not be having it all their own way.

Batteries Are Improving Their Energy Density

This is inevitable. and you are starting to see improvements in the fabrication of the battery packs to get more kWh into the space available.

In Wrightbus Presents Their First Battery-Electric Bus, I said this about the Forsee batteries used in the new buses from Wrightbus.

The Forsee brochure for the ZEN SLIM batteries gives an energy density of 166 Wh per Kg. This means that the weight of the 454 kWh battery is around 3.7 tonnes.

A one-tonne battery would have a capacity of 166 kWh.

  • It is the highest value I’ve so far found.
  • Technology is likely to improve.
  • Other battery manufacturers will be striving to match it.

For these reasons, in the rest of this post, I will use this figure.

Some Example Locomotives

In this section, I shall look at some possible locomotives.

Conversion Of A Class 43 Power Car

There are two Class 43 power cars in each InterCity 125 train.

  • The diesel engine is rated at 1678 kW.
  • The transmission is fully electric.
  • These days, they generally don’t haul more than five or six intermediate Mark 3 coaches.

I would see that the biggest problem in converting to battery power being providing the means to charge the batteries.

I suspect that these power cars would be converted to hydrogen, if they are converted to zero-carbon.

  • I would estimate that there is space for hydrogen tanks and a small gas-turbine generator in the back of the power car.
  • Much of the existing transmission could be retained.
  • A zero-carbon power car would certainly fit their main use in Scotland and the South-West of England.
  • I doubt hydrogen refuelling would be a problem.

They may even attract other operators to use the locomotives.

A Battery-Electric Locomotive Based on A Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

I am using this Class 88 locomotive as a starting point, as the locomotive is powerful, reliable and was built specifically for UK railways. There are also ten already in service in the UK.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I started the article like this.

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled Johnson Targets A Bi-Mode Future.

As someone, who has examined the mathematics of battery-powered trains for several years, I wonder if the Age of the Hybrid Battery/Electric Locomotive is closer than we think.

A Battery/Electric Class 88 Locomotive

 After reading Dual Mode Delight (RM Issue 863), it would appear that a Class 88 locomotive is a powerful and reliable locomotive.

    • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle load of 21.5 tonnes.
    • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
    • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive when working from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
    • The locomotive has regenerative braking, when working using electrification.
    • It would appear the weight of the diesel engine is around seven tonnes
    • The closely-related Class 68 locomotive has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

The locomotive would appear to be carrying between 7 and 12 tonnes of diesel-related gubbins.

Suppose  that the diesel-related gubbins of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced with a ten tonne battery.

Using the Forsee figures, that I quoted earlier, this battery would hold 1660 kWh.

At the power level of the 700 kW of the Caterpillar C27 diesel engine in the Class 88 locomotive, that would give more than two hours power.

It looks to me, that a battery-electric Class 88 locomotive could be a very useful locomotive.

It might even be able to haul freight trains in and out of the Port of Felixstowe, which would be a big advantage in decarbonising the port.

Certainly, methods to charge battery trains on the move, are being developed like the system from Hitachi ABB Power Grids, that put up short sections of 25 KVAC overhead electrification, which would be driven by a containerised power system.

These systems and others like them, may enable some battery-electric freight trains to work routes like.

  • Felixstowe and Ipswich.
  • Ipswich and Peterborough
  • Peterborough and Nuneaton.
  • Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln
  • Birmingham and Oxford

None of these routes are fully-electrified.

But because of the power limit imposed by the batteries, these locomotives will need to be recharged at points on the route.

This Google Map shows the Ipswich and Peterborough route crossing the Fen Line at Ely station.

Note.

  1. Ely Dock junction in the South-West corner, where the line from Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds joins the lines through Ely.
  2. Ely station towards the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Passenger trains run through the station.

But freight trains can take a route on the Eastern side of the station, which is not electrified.

At Ely station, a loop like this can be electrified using the existing electrification power supply, but at other places, systems like that from Hitachi ABB Power Grids can be used to electrify the loop or an appropriate section of the route.

These short sections of electrification will allow the train to progress on either electric or battery power.

A Hydrogen-Electric Locomotive Based on A Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I looked at creating a hydrogen-powered locomotive from a Class 68 locomotive.

I decided it was totally feasible to use readily available technology from companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins to create a powerful hydrogen-powered locomotive.

The Class 68 locomotive is the diesel-only cousin of the electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive and they share a lot of components including the body-shell, the bogies and the traction system.

I suspect Stadler could create a Class 88 locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 4 MW using electric power
  • At least 2.5 MW using hydrogen power.
  • Hydrogen power could come from Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW generator based on a small gas-turbine engine.
  • 100 mph on both electricity and hydrogen.
  • It would have power output on hydrogen roughly equal to a Class 66 locomotive on diesel.
  • It would have a range comparable to a Class 68 locomotive on diesel.

This locomotive would be a zero-carbon Class 66 locomotive replacement for all duties.

A Larger And More Powerful Hydrogen-Electric Locomotive

I feel that for the largest intermodal and stone trains, that a larger hydrogen-electric locomotive will be needed.

Conclusion

In the title of this post, I asked if freight locomotives of the future would be battery, electric or hydrogen.

I am sure of one thing, which is that all freight locomotives must be able to use electrification and if possible, that means both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail. Electrification will only increase in the future, making it necessary for most if not all locomotives in the future to be able to use it.

I feel there will be both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric locomotives, with the battery-electric locomotives towards the less-powerful end.

Hydrogen-electric will certainly dominate at the heavy end.

 

 

July 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Was This The Most Significant Statement On Freight Locomotives Last Week?

This press release from Freightliner, is entitled Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.

The dual-fuel project is important and will cut carbon emissions in the short term.

But it is only a quick fix, made possible by good technology.

It is also not zero-carbon.

This sixth paragraph from the press release is very significant.

This sustainable solution will support a programme to decarbonise freight operating companies’ diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that does not require significant short-term investment and facilitates operational learning in support of a longer-term fleet replacement programme, potentially using 100% hydrogen fuel.

I believe the paragraph indicates, that Freightliner and possibly the other companies involved in the building and operation of heavy freight locomotives have concluded, that the technology is now such, that a zero-carbon rail locomotive powered by 100 % hydrogen is now possible.

  • Rolls-Royce and possibly other gas-turbine companies have the technology to build small gas-turbine powered generators that can produce several megawatts of reliable electrical zero-carbon power, when fuelled by hydrogen.
  • We are seeing companies developing strategies for the safe supply of hydrogen in large industrial quantities.
  • Hydrogen has been successfully deployed on buses, trains and other large vehicles.
  • The technology has been proven that will allow dual-mode hydrogen-electric locomotives, that can use electrification, where it exists.
  • Some big companies like Cummins, JCB and Shell are backing hydrogen.

There are thousands of large diesel-powered locomotives all over the world and locomotive builders that can successfully replace these with hydrogen-powered locomotives will not go financially unrewarded!

July 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Freightliner, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W), in partnership with a consortium of specialist suppliers, has been successful in securing government funding to develop a dual-fuel solution for the Class 66 locomotive.

The technology is one of the 30 winners of the latest round of the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition announced today by the Transport Secretary. Already the safest and greenest mode of ground-freight transportation, the competition has been aimed at making the railways even cleaner, greener and more passenger friendly.

These are my thoughts.

A Big Opportunity

Freightliner have a total of 113 Class 66 locomotives, out of a UK total of well over 400.

If the project succeeds, this could cut a large amount of carbon emissions from UK rail freight.

Who Are The Partners?

The press release gives these project partners.

The key project partners are Freightliner, which operates over 113 Class-66s in the UK, and Clean Air Power, providers of innovative clean air solutions for freight. The project is also supported by Network Rail, Tarmac, Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB), Flogas, Carrickarory and the University of Birmingham.

It is a comprehensive group of partners, which probably covers all aspects.

  • From their web site, Clean Air Power would appear to have the expertise for the project, with back-up from the University of Birmingham, who seem to be involved in several high-profile rail projects.
  • The early involvement of standards must be a good thing.
  • Flogas are a gas company
  • Carrickarory would appear to be consultants specialising in rail.

Getting the team right is important in having a successful project.

What Are The Objectives Of The Project?

The press release gives these project objectives.

The project will investigate the ability to substitute diesel with both hydrogen and biogas on the Class-66 locomotive which hauls over 80% of freight on the UK rail network and, in doing so, reduce carbon emissions on one of the industry’s most challenging two-stroke locomotives.

This will be achieved by retrofitting the Class 66 with Clean Air Power’s precision injection technology, creating a Class 66 that can run on a combination of diesel, biogas and hydrogen.

Sounds a good set of reduced carbon objectives!

Would The Technology Be Applicable To Other Operators And Locomotives?

The press release says this.

This sustainable solution will support a programme to decarbonise freight operating companies’ diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that does not require significant short-term investment and facilitates operational learning in support of a longer-term fleet replacement programme, potentially using 100% hydrogen fuel.

Does this mean that the eventual Class 66 replacement will be a locomotive, that runs exclusively on hydrogen?

I suspect it does!

How very sensible!

Conclusion

This could be a big step in the battle to decarbonise.

July 5, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

CP Hydrogen Locomotive Pilot Powered By Ballard

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Canadian Pacific (CP) will use fuel cell modules from Ballard Power Systems for its first hydrogen fuel cell (HFC)-powered linehaul freight locomotive.

I have said that someone will build a hydrogen powered freight locomotive for some time  and it looks like Canada is first to show their hand.

The engine shown in the picture in the Railway Age article is 4107, which is an EMD FP9, which looks to be a typical North American diesel-electric locomotive.

  • It has a power of 1300 kW.
  • It can haul freight or passenger trains.
  • Ninety were built in the 1950s.
  • They have a maximum speed of between 65-105 mph.

The diesel engine and alternator will be swapped for six 200 kW fuel cells from Ballard and a battery.

This video shows 4107 leading the Royal Canadian Pacific, which is a luxury excursion passenger train.

Will this train be hydrogen powered in the future? It would be an interesting way to bring in the tourists.

 

 

March 10, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Are Hydrogen-Fuelled Vehicles A Waste Of Our Time And Energy?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Engineering & Technology, which is the magazine of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. So it should be authoritative.

This is the concluding paragraph.

Cars account for 61 per cent of surface transport emissions, HGVs only 17 per cent, buses 3 per cent, and rail 2 per cent (CCC, December 2020) so for cost/benefit it cannot be worthwhile switching to hydrogen fuel cell buses and trains. Through any impartial lens of engineering science, hydrogen fuel cell cars do not appear to be a transport winner and the Government should revisit decisions it has made about related funding. But then there is political virtue signalling.

It is a must-read contribution to the debate, as to whether hydrogen or battery power, is best for surface transport.

I don’t believe there is a simple answer, because for some applications, battery electric power is not feasible because of reasons of power or range.

  • Would a battery-electric truck, be able to haul a forty-four tonne load between the Channel Tunnel and Scotland?
  • Would a battery-electric locomotive be able to haul a thousand tonne aggregate or stone train for anything but a few tens of miles?
  • Is it possible to design a a battery-electric double-deck bus, that can carry seventy passengers?

I believe there are applications, where battery-electric is not a feasible alternative to the current diesel traction.

It is worth noting, that truck-maker; Daimler is planning to have both battery and hydrogen heavy trucks in its product line.

Users will choose, what is the best zero-carbon transport for their needs.

The Black Cab Driver’s Answer

It is always said, that, if you want to know the answer to a difficult question, you ask the opinion of a black cab driver.

So as the new electric black taxis, are the most common electric vehicle, that the average Londoner uses, what do the guys up-front say about their expensive vehicles.

  • Regularly, cab drivers complain to me about the range and having to use the diesel engine to charge the battery or power the car.
  • Some suggest to me, that hydrogen might be a better way to make the vehicles zero-carbon.

I think they may have a point about hydrogen being a better method of powering a black taxi, when you look at the pattern of journeys and the battery size and charging limitations of the vehicle.

These limitations may reduce in the future, as the technology gets better, with higher density batteries and faster charging.

We could even see a design and sales war between battery and hydrogen black cabs.

It always pays to follow the money!

February 17, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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