The Anonymous Widower

Ballard-Powered Fuel-Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now In Revenue Service In France

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Green Car Congress.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Ballard Power Systems announcedthat 8 ExquiCity tram-buses built by Van Hool NV and powered by 8 Ballard FCveloCity-HD 100-kilowatt fuel cell modules have been inaugurated at a ceremony in Pau, France and are now in revenue service in Pau’s Bus Rapid Transit System.

The Van Hool ExquiCity tram buses have the following specification.

  • Two sections
  • Length – 18.6 metres (New Routemaster – 11.2 metres)
  • Width – 2.6 metres (New Routemaster – 2.52 metres)
  • Weight – 18.5 tonnes (New Routemaster – 12.8 tonnes)
  • Passengers – 125 (New Routemaster – 80-87 – More on a 21/38/73 in the Peak)
  • Hydrogen Range – 300 km.
  • Power – 100 kW (New Routemaster – 138 kW)

I have compared with a New Routemaster, as both vehicles are designed as hybrids with a power source charging a battery which drives the vehicle, through a Siemens traction motor.

The Glider buses in Belfast are diesel-electric hybrid versions of the ExquiCity.

Conclusion

I do wonder from looking at the comparison with a New Routemaster, that the ExquiCity could be an interesting way to get 56 % more passengers into 66 % more road space. But it may be more efficient to use two New Routemasters to carry 28 % more passengers in 29 % more road space than the ExquiCity.

It is interesting to note that the Mercedes Citaro bendy buses in London, which were so hated by motorists because they blocked junctions were also eighteen metres long like the ExquiCity.

Obviously, if buses ran on a separated bus way, the length is not a problem.

I do feel though, that a purpose-built hydrogen-powered double-deck bus, will be better for most UK towns and cities.

This article on the BBC is entitled Wrightbus Owner Jo Bamford Says Coming To NI Is Revelation.

This is a paragraph.

Mr Bamford, the son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, told BBC News NI he has a keen interest in the use of hydrogen to power buses and that was the main reason he got involved with Wrightbus.

Consider.

  • Wrightbus designed and built the chassis for the diesel-electric hybrid New Routemaster.
  • Wrightbus pioneered the low-floor bus.
  • In March 2015 JCB made a strategic investment of £4.9M in hydrogen company; ITM Power.
  • ITM Power built the hydrogen filling station for the ExquiCity tram-buses in Pau.

It looks to me, that Jo Bamford, with some help from his father, has assembled the components for a serious assault on the hydrogen bus market.

 

February 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could New Routemaster Buses Be Converted To Hydrogen Power?

London has a thousand New Routemaster buses.

They are generally liked by passengers and drivers, although some Labour politicians think they should be replaced, because of their association with Boris.

They were introduced in 2011, so with a refurbishment, I suspect that they could be in service for perhaps another ten years.

The big feature in the design is that they are genuine hybrid buses with a small Cummins engine halfway up the back stairs, a battery under the front stairs and electric drive with regenerative braking.

I do wonder though, that because of the electric transmission, that these buses could be converted to hydrogen-powered buses.

It could be a more affordable route to create a thousand new zero-carbon buses for the streets of London or any other city for that matter.

Given that Wrightbus, who built the New Routemasters, is now owned by a member of the Bamford family of JCB fame and the company is reported to be going down the hydrogen bus route, I would suspect that conversion to hydrogen is on somebody’s mind.

 

February 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

London To Have World-First Hydrogen-Powered Double-Decker Buses

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Guardian.

This is the first three paragraphs.

London will have the world’s first hydrogen-powered doubledecker buses on its streets next year, as the capital steps up attempts to tackle its polluted air.

Transport for London (TfL) has ordered 20 of the buses, which cost around £500,000 each and only emit water as exhaust.

As well as cutting polluting exhaust emissions, the buses will run on green hydrogen produced via North Kent offshore wind farms, according to TfL.

After the announcement of the Alexander Dennis hydrogen buses for Liverpool, that I wrote about in New Facility To Power Liverpool’s Buses With Hydrogen, I wondered how long it would take Wrightbus to respond?

It appears to be less than a month.

This is also said about the buses.

The buses will also feature amenities such as USB charging points, and promise a smoother, quieter ride. They will operate first on three routes in west London and to Wembley, which served over 10 million passenger journeys last year.

I will add these comments.

USB Charging Points

I’ve only ever used USB charging points three times on the move.

All installations were under a few years old and it is definitely the way passenger transport is going.

London Overground’s new Class 710 trains will be fitted with USB charging points and wi-fi.

Smoother, Quieter Ride

I have ridden in the following electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles

  • A battery-electric Vivarail Class 230 train
  • A battery-electric Class 379 train
  • Several battery-electric and hydrogen-powered buses in London.
  • A hydrogen-powered Alstom Coeadia iLint train.
  • An LEVCC TX electric black cab.

With the exception of the iLint train, which has a mechanical transmission, all are smooth and quiet.

So I have no reason to disbelieve this claim in The Guardian article.

Three Routes In West London

This article in Air Quality News gives more details on the routes.

The vehicles will be introduced on routes 245, 7 and N7, with people travelling to Wembley Stadium, or from west London to the West End.

  • Route 7 runs between East Acton and Oxford Circus.
  • Route 245 runs between Alperton Sainsburys and Golders Green station.

Both are operated by Metroline from Perivale East garage, where they appear to be the only routes served from the garage, which has a capacity of forty buses.

This Google Map shows a 3D picture of Perivale East garage.

The garage is squeezed into a triangle of land between the Acton-Northolt Line, the Central Line and the six-lane A40 road.

  • It’s not near any houses.
  • It’s surrounded by trees and industrual units.
  • Is the site large enough to generate hydrogen on site?
  • Could hydrogen be brought in by rail?
  • It could easily hold the twenty hydrogen buses and a few others.

I can certainly see why Transport for London have chosen to use hydrogen buses on routes 7, 245, N7, based at Periavale East garage.

Design

This is a paragraph from the Air Quality News article.

TfL says they are investing £12m in the new buses and the fuelling infrastructure with Northern Ireland firm Wrightbus as the manufacturer, which uses a fuel cell from Ballard to power a Siemens drivetrain.

Wikipedia says this about the transmission of a New Routemaster bus, that was built by Wright.

Hybrid diesel-electric in series; 18 kW] Microvast Lithium Titanate battery,Microvast LpTO, Siemens ELFA2 electric traction motor.

I should point out that it appears that originally, the New Routemaster had a larger 75 kWh battery. Has the technology improved?

Is the transmission and the chassis based on the Wright-designed New Routemaster chassis and transmission, substituting a Ballard fuel cell for the Cummins diesel engine?

The Cummins diesel engine in the New Routemaster is rated at 185 hp or 138 kW.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet of Ballard’s FCveloCity family of fuel cells.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the bus.

It strikes me that this fuel cell is smaller and weighs less than a typical diesel engine fitted to a double-decker bus.

With a larger battery, regenerative braking and a clever transmission would a 100 kW fuel-cell provide enough power for the bus?

Wright have obviously solved the problem and found space for the hydrogen tank, otherwise they wouldn’t have received the order.

Drawing on their experience with the New Routemaster and adding the proven fuel cell technology of Ballard looks at first glance to be a low-risk route to a hydrogen-powered bus.

Conclusion

Wright Group and Transport for London appear to have designed a well-thought out solution to the problem of providing zero-emission buses for London and delivering the first buses next year!

We now have two hydrogen double-decker bus projects under way.

  • London and Wright Group
  • Liverpool and Alexander Dennis

Both appear to be fully-integrated projects, which include the supply of hydrogen to the buses.

When both are proven, there could be very keen competition between the two companies to sell systems all over the UK and the wider world.

It should be noted, that double-decker buses are not that common outside of the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong and Singapore.

But could these two zero-emission projects open up the rest of the world, to these most British of products?

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Wright Bus Embraces Ultracapacitors

This press release from Skeleton Technologies is entitled Graphene-Based Ultracapacitors Boost Double and Single Decker-Buses Through Low Emission Zones by Reducing Fuel Consumption.

This is said.

The integration of graphene-based ultracapacitors into test WrightBus double deck buses enables a 36% fuel saving compared to a UK based EuroVI diesel bus baseline. It also adds at least another 3 passengers to the capacity of these buses compared to a lithium battery-based hybrid equivalent.

I have a feeling that graphene-based ultracapacitors will give lithium batteries a very good kicking.

 

 

 

 

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

I like the New Routemaster and I use them regularly as five of the routes running close to my house use the buses.

So when I saw that Wright SRM buses, which are based on the New Routemaster, were being trialled on Route 183, I had to take a ride.

I went between Golders Green and Kenton stations.

In my view the bus has three major design faults compared to the New Routemaster.

The Floor Is No Longer Flat

The New Routemaster has a completely flat floor, whereas this bus doesn’t.

I suspect that this is because the bus is based on a standard Volvo B5LH chassis to save money, whereas the New Routemaster used a custom design.

Front Entry Only

One of the great features of the New Routemaster is that you can get in at any door, as there are card readers on all doors.

Drivers take advantage of this and often seem to stop the bus, so passengers can board quickly.

This must mean that they keep to the timetable better!

The Bus Is Rather Gloomy Inside

I sat towards the back, as I often do on New Routemasters, but the bus is so gloomy, as there is no windows facing to the rear.

Conclusion

I very much feel that someone needs to design a better bus chassis, as the standard Volvo chassis means that a flat floor and a light and airy interior, which are so important in my view, seem to be impossible.

Wrightbus can do a lot better.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Could IPEMU Trains Use KERS?

I have just read this article on The Business Desk, which is entitled Torotrak’s bus KERS system gets all-clear. The article starts like this.

Torotrak, a developer and supplier of emissions reduction and fuel efficiency technology in vehicles, and Wrightbus are celebrating the successful completion of the in-service trial of the Flybrid mechanical kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) for buses.

The trial was conducted with Arriva, one of the largest bus operators in the UK.

It must have been successful, as other reports say Torotrak shares have risen and the company is expected to start production of the Flybrid KERS in 2016.

I’m probably not the only engineer, who’s wondering, whether the technology can have applications with trains.

My one regret is that I only bought a thousand pounds worth of shares in the company.

January 5, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Other Train, Tram And Tram-Train Manufacturers And IPEMUs

The Aventra IPEMU is a Bombardier product, but I can’t see anything about using batteries in a train being patentable.

In the future we will see a range of energy storage devices based on all sorts of technology for transport applications. Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems describes the technology in Wikipedia

To deliver energy saving in transport, they need to be installed with regenerative braking and some clever control systems.

They are best generally described as kinetic energy recovery systems or KERS.

Applications will include.

  • Passenger Cars  – A sexy image would sell top-of-the-range hybrid and electric cars.
  • Buses – Hybrid and electric buses in cities are the way forward and they’ll need intelligent energy storage.
  • Trucks, Vans and other Commercial Vehicles – Why not, if it makes them more attractive to operators and makes vehicles more environmentally friendly?
  • Trams, Trains and Tram-Trains – The Aventra IPEMU is just the first.

Looking at KERS in motor sport and Formula One in particular, in Wikipedia, there are several ideas, some of which are based on batteries and others on mechanical systems like flywheels.

As buses, trams, trains and tram-trains tend to be large vehicles with plenty of available space, where quite a large KERS can be tucked away, it is probably not the demanding weight-sensitive application of say motor sport or passenger cars.

So I don’t see any reason why a train or bus manufacturer like Alstom, Hitachi, Siemens or Wrightbus will not fit KERS.

Wrightbus are mentioned in this press release from Torotrak entitled FUEL SAVING KINETIC RECOVERY SYSTEM PROJECT READY FOR NEXT PHASE. This is the first paragraph.

Wrightbus have confirmed that an innovative Kinetic Recovery System (KERS) project, developed in a collaborative partnership and partially funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is in full service trials with project partner Arriva.

Overall, this project looks very like the partnership that created the IPEMU demonstrator to prove the technology for trains, as it involves a bus manufacturer, a couple of technology or engineering companies, a transport operator and funding from the Government.

Incidentally, Torotrak is a British company with links to BAe Systems.

According to the press release the prototype bus is in service in Gillingham in Kent.

I can’t believe that the other train manufacturers are not looking seriously at KERS.

It is interesting to look at this article from Bus and Coach, which describes the Wrightbus project.

It is complicated mechanical setup, compared to installing KERS in an all-electric tram, train or tram-train, where it is a matter of designing an intelligent control system to link.

  • Overhead electric supply at 25 kVAC or 750 VDC
  • Third rail supply at 750 VDC
  • Traction motors
  • KERS
  • On-board electrical systems like air-con, lights and passenger displays

The control system would balance the sources and needs according to route and load.

I think that any train manufacturer that doesn’t offer KERS  as standard on a train or tram will be an also-ran!

 

 

 

September 29, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment