The Anonymous Widower

First In-flight 100% Sustainable-Fuels Emissions Study Of Passenger Jet Shows Early Promise

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Initial findings from a world-first study of the impact of 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on both engines of a commercial jet have provided promising early results.

The study was performed using an Airbus A350, which is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

This paragraph describes the tests.

In April, the A350 flew three flights over the Mediterranean Sea pursued by a DLR Falcon chaser plane to compare in-flight emissions of both kerosene and Neste’s hydro-processed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) sustainable fuel. The team also carried out compliance tests using 100% SAF and no operational issues were experienced.

I was surprised, when I first read this, that they used a chase plane to measure emissions, as I thought they’d simulate that in a test cell on the ground.

But this is probably, the best way to test the engines, whilst running on sustainable aviation fuel, in real-world conditions.

Conclusion

I believe that sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will be the interim solution to flying until hydrogen-powered aircraft are developed.

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Is The Alstom Hydrogen Train Powered By A Fuel Cell?

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I mentioned that Alstom’s Hydrogen Aventra could be powered by either a small gas turbine or a fuel cell or cells, but I didn’t plump for one or the other. I said this.

If you look at the proportions of the Alstom hydrogen train and the pictures of Class 710 trains, I feel that the Alstom train could have the longer twenty-four metre cars.

It may be a tight fit compared to creating the Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen train, but I would feel it is possible to install a fuel cell or cells, the required cooling and the hydrogen tanks, having seen cutaway drawings of hydrogen-powered double-deck buses on the Wrightbus web site.

Interestingly, the Alstom press release doesn’t mention fuel cells, so could the train be powered by a small gas turbine?

I think it is unlikely, but it is technically feasible.

I had forgotten one important factor. Both the Aventra factory and Rolls-Royce are in Derby and I know from talking to a retired British Rail engineer, that there is a lot of contact between the two companies at an informal level.

Rolls-Royce have published this picture of their beer keg-sized generator.

Would it need the cooling system, which appears to be needed with a fuel-cell?

The Rolls-Royce Advantage

There would surely be advantages in using a Rolls-Royce gas turbine to power the train.

  • Having a Rolls-Royce power unit must help sales of your plane or train.
  • There is the Derby connection.
  • Alstom already deal with Rolls-Royce subsidiary; MTU for diesel engines for freight locomotives.

Could we be seeing a hydrogen multiple unit powered by a gas turbine?

November 23, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | 6 Comments

‘Spirit of Innovation’ Stakes Claim To Be The World’s Fastest All-Electric Vehicle

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release on the Rolls-Royce web site.

This is the first paragraph.

We believe our all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft is the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, setting three new world records. We have submitted data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation who control and certify world aeronautical and astronautical records – that at 15:45 (GMT) on 16 November 2021, the aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over 3 kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph). In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres – 292.8km/h (182mph) faster than the previous record – and broke the fastest time to climb to 3000 metres by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds, according to our data. We hope that the FAI will certify and officially confirm the achievements of the team in the near future.

Rolls-Royce also claim that the maximum speed achieved of 387.4 mph make it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.

To put that speed into perspective, it is faster than a Mark V Spitfire, which was powered by a legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. These aircraft were powered by a Merlin 45 engine that generated 1074kW.

By comparison the Spirit of Innovation has a maximum power of just 400 kW.

Why Do It?

This paragraph from the press release gives an explanation.

As well as a stunning technical achievement, the project and world record runs provided important data for our future electric power and propulsion systems for all-electric urban air mobility and hybrid-electric commuter aircraft. The characteristics that ‘air-taxis’ require from batteries, for instance, are very similar to what was developed for the ‘Spirit of Innovation’.

I’ll go with that, as Rolls-Royce seem to be associated with several electric aviation projects.

But I can’t help feeling that there are parallels with the 1930s, when Supermarine and Rolls-Royce teamed up to produce the Supermarine S 6B, that won the Schneider Trophy outright in 1931. It is generally accepted that the knowledge gained at the time helped to design the Spitfire and the Merlin engine.

November 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rolls-Royce Submits SMR Design For UK Assessment

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on World Nuclear News.

This is the first paragraph.

Rolls-Royce SMR Limited has submitted its 470 MWe small modular reactor (SMR) design for entry to the UK’s Generic Design Assessment (GDA) regulatory process. The review of the SMR design – based on a small pressurised water reactor – will formally begin once the government has assessed the company’s capability and capacity to successfully enter the GDA process.

It’s good to see this project progressing.

November 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy | , , | Leave a comment

Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Alstom, Britain’s leading train manufacturer and maintenance provider, and Eversholt Rail, leading British train owner and financier, have today announced a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at delivering the UK’s first ever brand-new hydrogen train fleet.

The two companies have agreed to work together, sharing technical and commercial information necessary for Alstom to design, build, commission and support a fleet of ten three-car hydrogen multiple units (HMUs). These will be built by Alstom in Britain. The new HMU fleet will be based on the latest evolution of the Alstom Aventra platform and the intention is that final contracts for the fleet will be signed in early 2022.

This is an Alstom visualisation of the train.

The first thing I notice is that the train doesn’t have the same aerodynamic nose as this current Class 710 train, which is one of the London Overground’s Aventras.

 

Note how the lights, coupler position and the front-end structure are all different.

These are my further thoughts on the design.

The Aventra’s Traction System

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over ten years ago, so I suspect Bombardier (or now Alstom) have refined the concept.

Bombardier have not announced that any of their trains have energy storage, but I have my suspicions, that both the Class 345 and Class 710 Aventra trains use super-capacitors or lithium-ion batteries, as part of their traction system design.

  • I was told by a Bombardier driver-trainer that the Class 345 trains have an emergency power supply. When I said “Batteries?”, He gave a knowing smile.
  • From the feel of riding on Class 710 trains, as a Control Engineer, I suspect there is a battery or supercapacitor in the drive system to give a smoother ride.

I also feel that the Aventra has been designed, so that it can accept power from a large variety of sources, which charge the battery, that ultimately drives the train.

The Formation Of A Three-Car Aventra

The only three-car Aventra is the Class 730/0 train.

I have not seen one of one of these trains in the metal and the formation can’t be found on the Internet. But Wikipedia does show the pantograph on the middle car.

In The Formation Of A Class 710 Train, I said this.

Here is the formation of the train.

DMS+PMS(W)+MS1+DMS

The plates on the individual cars are as follows.

DMS – Driving Motored Standard

    • Weight – 43.5 tonnes
    • Length – 21.45 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 43

The two DMS cars would appear to be identical.

PMS (W) -Pantograph Motored Standard

    • Weight – 38.5 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 51

The (W) signifies a wheelchair space.

MS1 – Motored Standard

    • Weight – 32.3 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 52

It is similar in size to the PMS car, but has an extra seat.

So could the formation of a three-car Aventra be?

DMS+PMS(W)+DMS

I have just removed the MS1 car.

This would mean that a three-car Aventra has the following dimensions and capacity.

  • Weight – 125.5 tonnes
  • Length – 62.89 metres
  • Seats – 137

There will probably be a difference between these figures and those of a three-car Class 730 train, as those trains have end-gangways.

Could All The Hydrogen Gubbins Fit Underneath The Train?

These pictures show the space underneath a Class 710 train.

If you also look at Alstom’s visualisation of their Hydrogen Aventra on this post, there would appear to be lots of space under the train.

It should also be noted  that Birmingham University’s engineers have managed to put all of the hydrogen gubbins underneath the floor of Porterbrook’s Class 799 train.

Looking at my pictures, you can see the following.

  • The two DMS (Driving Motored Standard) cars have large boxes underneath
  • The MS1(Motored Standard) car is fairly clear underneath. But this will probably not be there in a three-car train.
  • The PMS (Pantograph Motored Standard) car has some space underneath.

If more space needs to be created, I suspect that the cars can be lengthened, between the bogies. The Class 710 trains have twenty metre intermediate cars, whereas some versions have twenty-four metre cars.

I believe that Aventras have been designed, so that various power sources could be installed under the floor.

When the Aventra was designed, over ten years ago, these could have included.

  • A diesel generator and all the fuel tanks and cooling systems.
  • A battery or other energy storage system.

Since then two other suitable power sources have been developed.

  • Rolls-Royce, Honeywell and others have developed small and powerful gas-turbine generators.
  • Ballard Power Systems and others have developed hydrogen fuel cell generators.

If you look at the proportions of the Alstom hydrogen train and the pictures of Class 710 trains, I feel that the Alstom train could have the longer twenty-four metre cars.

It may be a tight fit compared to creating the Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen train, but I would feel it is possible to install a fuel cell or cells, the required cooling and the hydrogen tanks, having seen cutaway drawings of hydrogen-powered double-deck buses on the Wrightbus web site.

Interestingly, the Alstom press release doesn’t mention fuel cells, so could the train be powered by a small gas turbine?

I think it is unlikely, but it is technically feasible.

Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Have Longer Cars?

I have been looking at pictures of Aventras on Wikipedia and in my own archive.

It appears that only Aventras with twenty-four metre carriages have five windows between the pair of double-doors in the intermediate carriages.

This picture shows the PMS car from a Class 710 train.

The PMS car is to the right and has four windows between the doors.

This is the side view of one of Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains.

It has twenty-four metre intermediate cars and five windows.

It looks to me that the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra will have twenty-four metre cars.

This will give an extra four x 2.78 metres space under the train compared to a Class 710 train.

It would also appear that the Aventras with twenty-four metre cars also have an extra window in the driving cars, between the doors.

Does the four metre stretch make it possible to position tubular hydrogen tanks across the train to store a practical amount of hydrogen?

Is The Alstom Hydrogen Train Based On A Three-Car Class 730/0 Train?

I have just found this video of a three-car Class 730/0 under test.

And guess what! It has five windows between the doors.

But then it is a train with twenty-four metre cars.

It looks to me, that Alstom have looked at the current Aventra range and decided that the three-car Class 730/0 could be the one to convert into a useful train powered by hydrogen.

So if it is a Class 730/0 train with hydrogen gubbins under the floor, what other characteristics would carry over.

  • I suspect Aventras are agnostic about power and so long as they get the right quantity of volts, amps and watts, the train will roll along happily.
  • But it means that the train can probably use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, 750 VDC third-rail electrification, hydrogen or battery power.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if if could use 15 KVAC and 3KVDC overhead electrification for operation in other countries, with perhaps a change of power electronics or transformer.
  • The interior layout of the trains can probably be the same as that of the Class 730/0 trains.
  • The Class 730/0 trains have an operating speed of 90 mph and this could be good enough for hydrogen.

This could be a very capable train, that could find a lot of applications.

Could The Proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Considered To Be A Class 730/0 Train With A Hydrogen Extender?

It appears that the only difference between the two trains is that the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra has a hydrogen propulsion system, that can be used when the electrification runs out.

The hydrogen fuel cell will convert hydrogen into electricity, which will either be used immediately or stored in a battery on the train.

The Class 730/0 trains have already been ordered to run services on Birmingham’s electrified Cross-City Line.

There are plans to expand the line in the future and I do wonder if the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could be the ideal trains for extending the network.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Class 600 Breeze Train?

The Class 600 train, which is based on the British Rail-era Class 321 train seems to have gone cold.

If it was a boxing match, it would have been stopped after the fourth round, if not before.

This Alstom visualisation shows the Class 600 train, which is also known as the Breeze.

I have a feeling that Alstom have done their marketing and everybody has said that the Class 600 train wouldn’t stand up to a modern train.

  • When you consider that each end of the train is a hydrogen tank, I wonder if possible passenger and driver reaction has not been overwhelmingly positive.
  • The project was announced in January 2021 and in the intervening time, hydrogen technology has improved at a fast pace.
  • There could even be a battery-electric version of the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.
  • The modern train could possibly be lengthened to a four or five car train.

It does strike me, that if Alstom are going to succeed with hydrogen trains, that to carry on with the Class 600 train without an order into the future is not a good idea.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Alstom Coradia iLint?

The Alstom Coradia iLint is the world’s first hydrogen train.

It is successfully in service in Germany.

These are some characteristics of the Coradia iLint from the Internet.

  • Seats – 180
  • Length – 54.27 metres
  • Width – 2.75 metres
  • Height – 4.31 metres
  • Operating Speed – 87 mph
  • Range – 370-500 miles
  • Electrification Use – No

The same figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra are as follows.

  • Seats – 164
  • Length – 72 metres
  • Width – 2.78 metres
  • Height – 3.76 metres
  • Operating Speed – 90 mph
  • Range – Unknown
  • Electrification Use – Unknown, but I would expect it is possible.

Note.

  1. I have taken figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra from the Class 730/0 train and other Aventras.
  2. The number of seats is my best estimate from using the seat density of a Class 710 train in a 24 metre long car.
  3. The width and height seem to be standard for most Aventras.
  4. Alstom have said nothing about the range on hydrogen.
  5. I am surprised that the Aventra is the wider train.

But what surprises me most, is how similar the two specifications are. Had the designer of the original Lint hoped to sell some in the UK?

What Is The Range Of The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra?

When they launched the Breeze, Alstom were talking about a range of a thousand kilometres or just over 620 miles.

I have talked to someone, who manages a large bus fleet and they feel with a hydrogen bus, you need a long range, as you might have to position the bus before it does a full day’s work.

Would similar positioning mean a hydrogen train needs a long range?

I suspect it would in some applications, but if the train could use electrification, as I suspect the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can, this must help with positioning and reduce the range needed and the amount of hydrogen used.

Would Alstom aim to make the range similar to the Coradia iLint? It’s probably a fair assumption.

Could the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Extended To Four Or Five Cars?

I don’t see why not, as Aventras are designed to be lengthened or shortened, by just adding or removing cars, just like their predecessors the Electrostars were.

I can certainly see routes, where a longer Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could be needed and if Alstom have also decided that such a train could be needed, they will surely have investigated how to lengthen the train.

Applications In The UK

These are links to a few thoughts on applications of the trains in the UK.

There are probably a lot more and I will add to this list.

Applications Elsewhere

If the Coradia iLint has problems, they are these.

  • It can’t use overhead electrification, where it exists
  • It has a noisy mechanical transmission, as it is a converted diesel multiple unit design.

The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can probably be modified to use electrification of any flavour and I can’t see why the train would be more noisy that say a Class 710 train.

I suspect Alstom will be putting the train forward for partially-electrified networks in countries other than the UK.

Conclusion

This modern hydrogen train from Alstom is what is needed.

It might also gain an initial order for Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, as it is a hydrogen version of the line’s Class 730/0 trains.

But having a hydrogen and an electric version, that are identical except for the hydrogen extender, could mean that the trains would be ideal for a partially-electrified network.

There could even be a compatible battery-electric version.

All trains would be identical to the passenger and probably the driver too. This would mean that mixed fleets could be run by an operator, with hydrogen or battery versions used on lines without electrification as appropriate.

 

 

 

 

November 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Diamond Synchrotron Sparkles And Shows Its Value To UK Economy

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Chemistry World, which is a monthly chemistry news magazine published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

This is the first paragraph.

Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron, has generated a ‘fantastic return on investment’ since it became operational in 2007. That’s according to a new study that values its socio-economic impacts at around £1.8 billion with each taxpayer contributing £2.45 a year towards it.

If you read the article about the Diamond Light Source, you will find example applications where the synchroton has been used.

  • Non-destructive testing of materials and structures. Some have been over a metre in size and a tonne in weight.
  • Drug discovery and development.
  • A team from the University of Portsmouth has used Diamond to study the bacterial enzyme PETase, which digests plastic.
  • Rolls-Royce has used Diamond to examine the stresses in fan-blades.

The article also states that it has hosted 14,000 users.

With an energy of only 3 GeV, Diamond is not the most powerful synchrotron, but it is certainly one of the most sophisticated.

Related Posts

I have written about the Diamond Light Source in these posts.

The Diamond Light Source is a serious scientific tool, that ranks with the best in the world.

 

October 24, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rolls-Royce Joins Boeing And World Energy For Successful 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel Flight

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Rolls-Royce.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Rolls-Royce, working with Boeing and World Energy, has carried out a successful test flight of its 747 Flying Testbed aircraft using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on a Trent 1000 engine.

The aircraft flew from Tucson airport in Arizona, passing over New Mexico and Texas, with a Trent 1000 engine running solely on 100% SAF while the remaining three RB211 engines ran on standard jet fuel, arriving back at the airport three hours and 54 minutes later. Initial indications confirm there were no engineering issues, providing further proof of the fuel’s suitability for commercial use.

Until new zero-carbon technology is developed, which possibly uses hydrogen as a fuel, I believe that Sustainable Aviation Fuel is the best route that the world can take to cut the carbon emissions from flying.

October 20, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rolls-Royce To Re-Engine A Fleet Of Aircraft That Went Into Service In 1955 For $2.6 Billion

This sounds like good business if you can get it for Rolls-Royce.

It’s all described in this press release from Rolls-Royce, which is entitled Rolls-Royce North America Selected To Power The B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Rolls-Royce North America has been selected to provide the powerplant for the B-52 Stratofortress under the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), further extending a long history of powering the United States Air Force.

The decision means the American-made Rolls-Royce F-130 engine will power the B-52 for the next 30 years. The Air Force made the announcement after a vigorous multi-year competition.

Note.

  1. It looks like the B-52s will stay in service until 2050.
  2. That is not bad for an aircraft that first flew in 1952, when I was five.

Wikipedia describes the deal like this.

The USAF intends to purchase 650 engines (608 direct replacements, 42 spare engines) for its fleet of 76 B-52H aircraft in a $2.6 billion deal.

I suspect the accountants are pleased at Rolls-Royce, as $2.6 million is good cash-flow.

  • The F-130 engine is a military variant of the BR725 engine, which was developed by Rolls-Royce Deutschland, which although it started as a joint-venture between Rolls-Royce and BMW, is now part of Rolls-Royce.
  • The engines will be built by Rolls-Royce North America in Indianapolis.

So I suspect development costs will not be too horrendous!

 

October 5, 2021 Posted by | Business, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Rolls-Royce’s All-Electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ Takes To The Skies For The First Time

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the first paragraph.

We are pleased to announce the completion of the first flight of our all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft. At 14:56 (BST) the plane took to the skies propelled by its powerful 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain with the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft. This is another step towards the plane’s world-record attempt and another milestone on the aviation industry’s journey towards decarbonisation.

Rolls-Royce also published an album of photographs, of which this is one.

Note that the motor was designed and made by Yasa.

September 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Rolls-Royce And Flanders Electric Plan To Develop Hybrid Retrofit Solution For Mining Trucks

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the first paragraph.

Rolls-Royce and Flanders Electric have agreed to develop a retrofit solution for hybridizing mining trucks with mtu engines, batteries and hybrid control systems, and Flanders drive train solutions. The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding enabling them to offer a scalable retrofit kit for hybridizing mining trucks in a wide range of mining applications.

This looks to be a promising application of a version of MTU Mybrid PowerPack technology, that is being trialled on a Class 168 train on Chiltern Railways.

They are claiming a CO2 reduction of twenty percent.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment