The Anonymous Widower

Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains

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

A few points from the article.

  • Class 230 trains running on battery power have a range of sixty miles.
  • Fully charging the train takes seven minutes.
  • Short lengths of third and fourth-rail are used.
  • Power is provided from a battery bank, which is trickle charged.

I feel this paragraph describes the key feature.

The automatic technique utilises a carbon ceramic shoe, which is capable of withstanding the significant amount of heat generated during the process.

The article finishes with a quote from Vivarail CEO Adrian Shooter.

I know how important it is to the public and the industry as a whole to phase out diesel units and our battery train is paving the way for that to take place today not tomorrow.

Consider.

  • Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens and Stadler have built or are building third-rail powered trains for the UK.
  • Bombardier, Porterbrook and Stadler are developing battery-powered trains for the UK.
  • Trickle-charging of the secondary batteries could be performed by mains power or a local renewable source like wind or solar.
  • Control electronics can make this a very safe system, with low risk of anybody being hurt from the electrical systems.

I’ve said it before, but I think that Vivarail may have some very important technology here.

If I have a worry, it is that unscrupulous companies and countries will probably find a way round any patent.

 

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

SWR And Porterbrook Trial New Emission-Slashing Rail Technology

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

This is the first three paragraphs of the article.

Groundbreaking emission-reducing technology is to be fitted to South Western Railway (SWR) train units as part of a new trial aiming to cut down harmful emissions from diesel trains by 80%.

Porterbrook is working in partnership with exhaust manufacturer Eminox to carry out the trial, with the DfT supporting the rolling stock company’s investment.

This will see South Western Railway’s Class 159 diesel units fitted with a first-of-its-kind emissions control device, with plans to roll out the technology to hundreds of diesel trains across the UK’s rail network.

I have looked up Eminox on their web site.

This is the mission statement on the front page.

Eminox designs and manufactures exhaust after-treatment systems, reducing emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and equipment.

Our products are supplied as original equipment to meet the latest emissions standards. We also produce complete emissions systems for retrofit to meet the ever-changing demands of local air quality programmes such as London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone and Clean Air Zones across the country.

Our Eminox Custom team specialises in exhaust conversions and bespoke systems.

While politicians dither and fiddle, engineers engineer, with a little bot of help from Porterbrook and the DfT.

If this technology proves to be successful, I can see its application to large numbers of diesel trains around the world.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ovo Partners With Glen Dimplex To Deliver Smart Heating

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

If you read the article, you will find out how the humble electric storage heater could be joining the smart electricity grid.

This is a paragraph.

It says the facility to store excess energy can lower the cost of electrification by reducing the need for backup generation and investment in the power grid to increase its peak capacity. Analysis by Imperial College London has indicated that deploying smart flexible heating could cut decarbonisation costs by £3.9 billion per year.

This is going to be technology to watch.

Especially, if your heating needs are best met by some form of electric storage heaters.

March 1, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

Grants To Support Low-Carbon Technology Demonstrators

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

This is the two introductory paragraphs.

The Department for Transport has awarded grants of around £350 000 to each of five projects which aim to develop technology to reduce the rail network’s carbon footprint.

The projects were selected under the second round of the DfT’s First of a Kind competition, run by Innovate UK as part of the DfT’s wider Accelerating Innovation in Rail programme.

These are the winners.

Riding Sunbeams

I wrote about this technology in Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand.

Diesel Freight Carbon Reduction Technology

We all hate Class 66 locomotives, with their noise, vibration and pollution.

But an Essex company called Vortex Exhaust Technology has been awarded a grant to see if their free-flowing exhausts can tame, these most unfriendly of beasts.

They make this claim on their web site.

Vortex is the ONLY exhaust technology available that effectively eliminates back pressure, improving engine efficiency, boosting power and cutting emissions.

A Class 66 locomotive will be a tough challenge.

To see what the company can do for road vehicles, there is a case study at the bottom of this page.

But then they are Essex Boys! Performance is in the genes!

CODD-P Hydraulic Pump

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Unipart Rail will undertake in-service testing of a commercial version of a digital displacement pump and electronic controller in place of a traditional hydraulic pump with swashplate design. This is expected to provide a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

It sounds like an idea from Artemis Intelligent Power in Edinburgh.

Green Rail Exhaust After Treatment

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Leasing company Porterbrook will collaborate with Eminox to transfer an on-road exhaust after-treatment system widely fitted to heavy-duty vehicles to the railway environment, equipping a South Western Railway Class 158 DMU for in-service trials. This will enable the technical and commercial viability to be established, so it can be offered for widespread fitment.

There are currently 170 Class 158 trains and 30 of the closely-related Class 159 trains in service, so if this is successful, there won’t be a shortage of installations.

The picture shows one of East Midlands Trains, Class 158 trains.

 

It should also be said, that most Class 158 trains are in excellent condition, despite being nearly thirty years old.

Note that Porterbrook are involved. Train leasing companies seem to be getting increasingly involved with innovation.

W2W Zero Emissions Power System

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Steamology’s Water 2 Water concept will use compressed hydrogen and oxygen gas in a ‘compact energy-dense steam generator’ to produce high pressure superheated steam to drive a turbine, which will generate electricity to charge the batteries as a ‘range extender’ for a Vivarail Class 230 multiple-unit produced from former London Underground vehicles.

It sounds to me, that the tabloids will say that this is the return of the steam train.

Conclusion

They are a broad spread of technology and I have this feeling, that the Department for Transport will get a sensible return for an outlay of around two million pounds.

But I suspect that the best and most profitable idea, will come, after a meeting between two or more of the award winners and their backers.

 

 

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Storage At Scale Competition

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

This is the details of the competition.

Innovative large-scale energy storage will play an important role in decarbonising industry, power, heat and transport.

This competition is looking for innovative, replicable solutions which could provide a market competitive alternative to conventional commercial large scale energy storage technologies, for example pumped-hydro or batteries (such as lithium ion, lead acid or sodium-sulphur).

A range of electrical energy storage technologies are within scope, with a target minimum output power of 30 MW or minimum capacity of 50 MWh. Power-to-X technologies (e.g. power-to-gas) with a target minimum input power of 5 MW are also in scope.

Up to £20 million will be available from 2019 to 2021. The competition will support up to 3 demonstration projects with build completion by March 2021 and operational testing to be completed December 2021.

Projects should be at a technology readiness level of 6 or above, which could result in lower capital or operating costs to the traditional storage technologies, or improved capacity, sustainability and response rates at a comparable cost.

A few thoughts.

The Minimum Output Power

A minimum output of 30 MW is specified.

To put this in context, the pumped-storage Dinorwig Power Station, has a maximum power output of 1,800 MW.

The Minimum Capacity

A minimum capacity of 50 MWh is specified.

Dinorwig has a capacity of 9.1 GWh

Power-to-X Technologies

As Power-to-gas is mentioned, I would feel that this refers to a process like electrolysis, where electricity is perhaps converted into hydrogen, which can be stored and then converted back to electricity using fuel cells or combustion and a steam turbine.

Conclusion

The competition looks to me to be a good idea.

Let’s hope it produces something worthwhile.

 

February 4, 2019 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Innovative Use Of Ground Source Heat Pumps At London Bridge Station

I like the idea of ground source heat pumps, as an efficient way of heating and cooling a building.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Looking Back On London Bridge.

This is an extract.

Working with GI Energy, we also drove the use of innovative technology – installing geothermal loops into 145 of the planned piles. These geothermal piles consist of pile foundations combined with two closed-loop ground source heat pump systems which span the length of the pile – they support the building while acting as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer. The piles alone will generate 79 tonnes per year in carbon savings.

Is that a case of having your cake and eating it?

January 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

How Do Porterbrook’s Battery/FLEX Trains Compare With Eversholt’s Hydrogen-Powered Trains?

In the two green corners of this ultra-heavyweight fight to provide electric trains for rail routes without electrification, there are two ROSCOs or rolling stock operating companies.

Eversholt Rail Group

Eversholt Rail Group‘s product is the Class 321 Hydrogen, which is an upgrade of a Class 321 train with batteries and hydrogen-power.

Porterbrook

Porterbrook‘s product is the Class 350 Battery/FLEX, which is an upgrade of a Class 350 train with batteries.

How Do The Two Trains Compare?

I will list various areas and features in alphabetical order.

Age

The Class 350 trains date from 2008-2009 and others were introduced to the UK rail network as early as 2004.

The Class 321 trains date from the 1990s, but that shouldn’t be too  much of a problem as they are based on the legendary Mark 3 Coach.

Scores: Porterbrook 4 – Eversholt 3

Batteries And Supercapacitors

This is an area, where the flow of development and innovation is very much in favour of both trains.

Currently, a 1000 kWh battery would weigh about a tonne. Expect the weight and volume to decrease substantially.

Scores: Porterbrook 5 – Eversholt 5

Battery Charging – From Electrification

No problem for either train.

Scores: Porterbrook 5 – Eversholt 5

Battery Charging – From Rapid Charging System

I believe that a third-rail based rapid charging system can be developed for battery/electric trains and I wrote about this in Charging Battery/Electric Trains En-Route.

No problem for either train.

Scores: Porterbrook 5 – Eversholt 5

Development And Engineering

Fitting batteries to rolling stock has now been done successfully several times and products are now appearing with 400 kWh and more energy storage either under the floor or on the roof of three and four-car electrical multiple units.

I feel that adding batteries, supercapacitors or a mixture of both to typical UK electric multiple units is now a well-defined process of engineering design and is likely to be achieved without too much heartache.

It should be noted, that the public test of the Class 379 BEMU train, was a rare rail project, where the serious issues found wouldn’t even fill a a thimble.

So I have no doubt that both trains will get their batteries sorted without too much trouble.

I do feel though, that adding hydrogen power to an existing UK train will be more difficult. It’s probably more a matter of space in the restricted UK loading gauge.

Scores: Porterbrook 5 – Eversholt 3

Electrification

Both types of train currently work on lines equipped with 25 KVAC overhead electrification, although other closely-related trains have the ability to work on 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

Both trains could be converted to work on both systems.

Scores: Porterbrook 5 – Eversholt 5

Interiors

The interior of both trains will need updating, as the interiors reflect the period, when the trains were designed and built.

Eversholt have already shown their hand with the Class 321 Renatus.

The interiors is a design and refurbishment issue, where train operating companies will order the trains and a complimentary interior they need, for the routes, where they intend to run the trains.

Scores: Porterbrook 5 – Eversholt 5

Operating Speed

Both trains in their current forms are 100 mph trains.

However some versions of the Class 350 trains have been upgraded to 110 mph, which allows them to work faster on busy main lines and not annoy 125 mph expresses.

I am pretty sure that all Class 350 trains can be 110 mph trains.

Scores: Porterbrook 5 – Eversholt 4

Public Perception

The public judge their trains mainly on the interiors and whether they are reliable and arrive on time.

I’ve talked to various people, who’ve used the two scheduled battery/electric services, that have run in the UK.

All reports were favourable and I heard no tales of difficulties.

In my two trips to Hamburg, I didn’t get a ride on the Coradia iLint hydrogen-powered train, but I did talk to passengers who had and their reactions were similar to those who travelled to and from Harwich in the UK.

I rode on the Harwich train myself and just like Vivarail’s Class 230 train, which I rode in Scotland, it was impressive.

I think we can say, that the concept and execution of battery/electric or hydrogen-powered trains in the UK, will be given a fair hearing by the general public.

Scores: Porterbrook 5 – Eversholt 5

Range Without Electrification

Alstom talk of ranges of hundreds of miles for hydrogen trains.and there is no reason to believe that the Class 321 Hydrogen trains will not be capable of this order of distance before refuelling.

Bombardier, Vivarail and others talk of battery ranges in the tens of miles before a recharge is needed.

The game-changer could be something like the technique for charging electric trains, I outlined in Charging Battery/Electric Trains En-Route.

This method could give battery trains a way of topping up the batteries at station stops.

Scores: Porterbrook 3 – Eversholt 5

Conclusion

The total scores are level at forty-seven.

All those, who say that I fiddled it, not to annoy anybody are wrong.

The level result surprised me!

I feel that it is going to be an interesting engineering, technical and commercial battle between the two ROSCOs, where the biggest winners could be the train operating companies and the general public.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see two fleets of superb trains.

 

November 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

HyperSolar Granted Critical Patent for Producing Low Cost Renewable Hydrogen

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

It looks to me that a company call HyperSolar is working on producing hydrogen direct from solar power from any water source.

This is technology to watch. Pending full development, you can always watch this video on the HyperSolar web site.

October 17, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 6 Comments

Bi-Mode Good, Tri-Mode Better

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

It is an informative article about the creation of the Class 769 trains.

These are some points.

Class 150 Performance

Class 769 performance on diesel is likely to be as good as that of a Class 150 train, if not better.

When running on electric power, they will still be capable of 100 mph.

Extensive Route And Performance Modelling

Extensive computer modelling has been carried out to make sure the train performs.

Access To The Original Designers

It appears that they were able to call in some of the original designers and that at least some of the iriginal drawings were available.

An Extensive Project

The article quotes these figures on the resources used to design the conversion.

  • 60 engineers
  • 45,000 engineering hours
  • 2,500 drawings
  • 3,500 detailed components

I suspect that this could account for the late running of the project.

Approvals

There is a large section on approvals, which is well worth a read. It looks to me, that they are making sure, that these trains fit all regulations and not those that apply to upgrades and improvements.

Noise

They are also going for better noise than a Class 15x train, which must be a good thing.

Raiding The Class 150 Parts Bin

They obviously needed exhausts for the two diesel engines, so in true Colin Chapman fashion, they looked round for something that was readily available and would do the job.

As Class 319 and 150 trains share a lot of components like bogies, the exhausts for the converted trains are from a Class 150 train.

Maintenance Costs

The new trains will obviously cost more to maintain than a Class 319 train, but will probably be cheaper to run than a Class 150 train.

The Ultimate Class 769 train.

The article indicates what could be possible.

  • Air cooling
  • CCTV – both saloon and forward facing
  • At seat USB and power sockets
  • Ethernet backbone to support engine control and Wi-Fi
  • Interior and exterior rebranding
  • Guard’s door control panels.

Not a bad specification for a thirty-year-old train.

Orders

There may be more orders in the pipeline.

Conclusion

I think that these trains will do what they are intended to do in a reliable and quality manner.

Tailpiece – Class 455 Flex

The article finishes with a disclosure about what might happen to the Class 455 trains.

These have been extensively refurbished and have been retrofitted with three-phase AC traction systems incorporating regenerative braking. There would be space on the intermediate trailer coach for batteries that could be charged by the regenerated energy and by the diesel engines. Such a feature could have several benefits such as being able to stop the diesel engines in terminal stations and to supplement diesel engine power when accelerating.

Could this be a four-car efficient runabout for branch lines, as they are only 75 mph trains?

 

 

 

September 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is This The Solution To A Charging Station For Battery Trains?

This page on the Opbrid web site has a main title of Automatic High Power Charging for Buses, Trucks, and Trains.

It also has a subtitle of Furrer+Frey Opbrid Charging Stations for Battery Trains.

Furrer + Frey are a Swiss railway engineering company, that design and build railway electrification systems.

The web page gives this introduction.

Since 2009, Furrer+Frey has developed a multi-modal ultra high power charging station for battery-powered vehicles that is already radically changing the way traction power is delivered to road and rail vehicles. In particular, the Furrer+Frey Railbaar system targets existing low traffic diesel traction routes as well as new light rail and tram projects. The technology applies to battery powered trams and trains (Railbaar), buses (Busbaar) and trucks (Trukbaar) with a design rooted in proven Swiss electric rail technology already successfully deployed by Furrer+Frey across Europe and the world.

The web page has an interesting image for a Swiss company.

Shown is a Class 379 train, at a station, which I’m pretty sure is Cambridge.

Liverpool Street to Cambridge is a fully-electrified route, so why would a charging station be needed on this service?

I can’t think of a reason.

So I suspect, it’s just that to illustrate the web page, they needed to use a train that had the capability of running under battery power, which the Class 379 did in the BEMU trial of 2015.

It could also be that Furrer + Frey are working with Bombardier and it’s a Bombardier library picture.

But then Furrer + Frey probably work with all the major train manufacturers.

And as Bombardier have just released a new battery train, that I wrote about in Bombardier Introduces Talent 3 Battery-Operated Train, it would be logical that the two companies are working together, as battery trains will surely need charging in stations to develop longer routes.

Note the blue box in the middle of the picture. It says.

Download White Paper On 25 Kv Train Charging

If you download the white paper, you will find a very comprehensive and detailed description of how battery trains could be charged in stations. This is the introductory paragraph.

Battery-powered trains are rapidly becoming the vehicle of choice for the replacement of diesel
trains on non-electrified rail lines. Often there is not enough traffic on these lines to justify the expense of erecting overhead line equipment (OLE) along the track. In many cases, the train runs under OLE for part of its route where the battery train can charge via its pantograph. However, sometimes additional charging is required. While it is possible to erect additional kilometers of OLE for charging, it is more cost effective to charge the train via pantograph while stopped at a station using a very short length of overhead conductor rail and a 25 kV power supply.

I will now try to explain the solution.

The white paper gives this physical description of the solution.

The physical structure of the charging station is quite simple.

It consists of a short length of overhead conductor rail, approximately 20 m to 200 m in length. This length depends on the type, length, and number of battery trains that will be charging at one time. The conductor rail is supported by normal trackside posts and high voltage insulators. Insulated cables lead from the power supply to the conductor rail, with the return path from the running
rails. Furrer+Frey makes 25 kV and 15 kV overhead conductor rail systems that are ideal for this
purpose.

The design seems to use readily available components.

What Is Overhead Conductor Rail?

This picture, that I took on the Thameslink platforms at St. Pancras station, shows the overhead conductor rail, used to power the trains.

 

St. Pancras is one of the best places to see overhead conductor rail in London, although overhead conductor rail will be used by Crossrail in the tunnels.

How Would Overhead Conductor Rail Be Used To Charge A Train’s Batteries?

A short length of such a rail, would be mounted above the track in the station, so that it could be accessed by the train’s pantograph.

The rail would be positioned so that it was exactly over the train track, at the height required by the train.

What Voltage Would Be Used?

The normal overhead voltage in the UK, is 25 KVAC. There is no reason to believe that any other voltage would be used.

The overhead conductor rail/pantograph combination has a lot of advantages and benefits.

The Overhead Conductor Rail Is Standard

The overhead conductor rail is a standard Furrer + Frey product and it can be supported in any of the appropriate ways the company has used around the world.

This picture shows conductor rail fixed to the wall in Berlin HBf station.

Or it could be fixed to gantries like these at Gospel Oak station, which carry normal overhead wiring.

 

Note that gantries come in all shapes and sizes.

The Overhead Conductor Rail Can Be Any Convenient Length

There is probably a minimum length, as although drivers can stop the trains very precisely, a few extra metres will give a margin of error.

But there is no reason why at a through platform on a line served by battery trains, couldn’t have an overhead rail, that was as long as the platform.

The Train Pantograph Is Standard

The pantograph on the train, that collects the current from the overhead conductor rail can be an almost standard unit, as it will be doing  the same job as it does on electrified sections of the route.

The white paper goes into this in detail.

As in the UK, our overhead line voltage is 25 Kv, the train can receive 1 MW with a current of 40 A, which is probably low enough to be below the limit of the conductor rail/pantograph combination. This would allow around 80 kWh to be transferred to the train in a five minute charge.

Could Trains Use Two Pantographs To Charge Batteries?

The white paper says that the system could handle more than one train, if the overhead conductor rail was long enough.

Bombardier’s Class 345 trains are effectively two half-trains, which each have their own pantograph.

So could a train use both pantographs to charge the batteries?

A Sophisticated Pantograph Control System Could Be Used

The train would probably have a sophisticated control system to automatically raise and lower the pantograph, so as to maximise the charge, whilst the train was in the station.

The System Should Be Safe

The overhead conductor rail would be no closer to passengers and staff, than overhead wires and conductor rail are at any other station platform in the UK.

I also suspect, that the power to the overhead conductor rail would only be switched on, if a train was being charged.

Standard Solutions Could Be Developed

One application of battery trains is to use them on a branch without electrification from an electrified line to a simple station in a town, housing or commercial development or airport..

The terminal stations would be very simple and surprisingly similar.

  • One platform.
  • An overhead conductor rail on gantries, a wall or some other simple support.
  • A power supply for the overhead conductor rail.

A station building,, shelters and information displays could be added to the solution or designed specifically for the location.

Solutions for a wide range of countries would only differ in a few areas.

  • The height of the platform.
  • The gauge of the track.
  • The overhead conductor rail voltage.

But I do believe that in this example of a standard system, there will be surprising commonality across the world.

As the white paper identifies, there is at least one tricky problem.

The High Voltage Power Supply

Providing high-quality, reliable high-voltage supplies may not always be that easy in some areas, so innovative electrical solutions will certainly be needed.

One solution suggested in the white paper involves using energy storage and then creating the 25 KVAC to power the overhead conductor rail.

I like this solution, as there are many applications, where these forms of independent power supplies are needed to power industrial premises, villages and equipment like flood pumps, often in remote locations. They could also incorporate a wind turbine or solar panels.

Someone will develop these systems and providing 15 or25 KVAC will be just another application.

Conclusion

I will add the conclusion from the white paper, as it says it all.

Battery trains are now available to replace diesel
trains on existing non-electrified tracks. They can
be charged using AC 25 kV 50 Hz or AC 15 kV 16,7
Hz either while running under catenary or when at
a standstill at a station using a short length of
overhead conductor rail and an appropriate power
supply. Standstill charging avoids the need to
build long stretches of catenary along a track
thereby saving money, and allowing the electrification
of track previously thought to be uneconomic
to electrify. Battery trains also enable the
use of renewable energy sources. Moving towards
green energy sources reduces harmful emissions
and noise which positively impacts climate change
and improves health

I am sure, we’ll see a lot of uses of this simple and efficient method of charging battery trains.

 

 

 

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments