News Wire: Rose says BNSF will extract efficiencies from PTC, prefers battery power to natural gas for locomotives

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Posted by Brian Schmidt on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 3:02 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose says Tuesday his company hopes to extract efficiencies out of positive train control implementation, but added that he is not about eliminating crews from cabs. He also says that BNSF...

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/04/10-rose-says-battery-powered-locomotive-are-more-in-bnsfs-future

Brian Schmidt, Associate Editor Trains Magazine

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Posted by kgbw49 on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:44 AM

It would be interesting to see if they develop large “battery tenders” that get charged while rolling through other states and then take over supplying the traction motors at the CA State Line. The science and engineering will be interesting no matter the solution.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:53 AM

kgbw49
It would be interesting to see if they develop large “battery tenders” that get charged while rolling through other states and then take over supplying the traction motors at the CA State Line.

That is an interesting idea, particularly if they are preferentially 'charged' extensively with regenerative braking energy, and the diesel prime movers are still used for baseline in California but in steady-state at least marginal emissions within CARB spec.  You would probably produce these not as "tenders" but as road slugs semi-permanently assigned to particular consists, not necessarily leading, and with traction motors enabled.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, April 12, 2018 11:48 AM

kgbw49
t would be interesting to see if they develop large “battery tenders” that get charged while rolling through other states

They could do like CSX and make the road slug/battery tenders capable of leading - increases flexibility.  And I think I've heard that the crews like them - nice and quiet.

While the gain wouldn't be huge, the possibility of adding solar to the top of the slug/tender exists as well, in addition to regenerative braking.  It could allow the units to be shut down while maintaining/building the charge.

A lot will depend on how much battery can be added to such a unit before weight becomes a problem.  Even so, being able to use chiefly battery in pollution problem areas (LA Basin) while running on Diesel out in the "wide open spaces" could be inviting.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, April 12, 2018 12:01 PM

tree68
A lot will depend on how much battery can be added to such a unit before weight becomes a problem.

It's not a problem.

About the closest to a worry you have is if using 'conventional' lead-acid chemistry with all the insulation, shock protection, charging logic and so forth you need to get even AGM to work correctly in that application (most contractors that have built locomotives using it have more or less failed to produce useful results long-term).  If you get a copy of the COMSOL multiphysics 'demo disk' they have a reasonably readable technical discussion of the battery solution GE used in their full-size hybrid locomotive, and you can probably get from there to the 'legacy' versions of sodium/sulfur without too much difficulty.  Modern Li-ion strings of course are not a weight problem net of required ballasting for even minimum adhesion ... and you don't have the whole weight of the prime mover and ancillaries in a road slug in the first place.

A design decision is whether to run the motors on the 'battery vehicles' entirely from battery strings, like the old tripower units, or to work them as hybrid vehicles in conjunction with the engine/alternators either in genset or slug-mother power.  Arguments can be made either way, with regenerative braking being fully available down to almost zero road speed either way with the right motors and control electronics.

Personally I don't think the added gain from solar arrays would justify the investment, let alone the maintenance, but don't let me rain on the parade.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, April 12, 2018 3:21 PM

Overmod
Personally I don't think the added gain from solar arrays would justify the investment, let alone the maintenance, but don't let me rain on the parade.

It was just a thought - a lot would depend on whether a solar array that would fit would be able to provide enough power to be worthwhile, even if only for charging while the unit was parked.  It might be more worthwhile to put in a solar powered charging station, using ground mounted panels.

Trying to be green, you know!

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Posted by Ulrich on Thursday, April 12, 2018 8:31 PM

I don't see battery weight as a problem... batteries could be mounted on a tender behind the locomotive. When the batteries run down the battery tender is simply switched for another. And battieries could also be charged through regenerative braking.. further enhancing efficiencies. I hope they get on with it.. electric locomotives are the way of the future. 

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:08 PM

Ulrich
...batteries could be mounted on a tender behind the locomotive.

I think that's kind of where the slug idea was going.  There would just be a couple more cables to connect or disconnect.  And you'd have that many more axles pulling, etc.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:46 PM

Has battery technolgy expanded so much since this discussion?

http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/111/t/261577.aspx 

I would think it easier to string wire (catenary) on main routes and use straight electrics for through trains.  Maybe having the road power to have battery capability to operate on auxilary tracks, including sidings and service tracks to cut down how many tracks need to be wired.  Let battery/hybrid engines work the less demanding service like yard and local work.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Thursday, April 12, 2018 10:23 PM

'Battery Powered Locomotives'   kind of a stunning concept in the era of automotive hybridization.  IMHO.  Solar arrays(?) cantenary(?)  targets in 2020(?).  I am a little surprised that it seems that no poster noted that current locomotive fleet utilizes its own power generation, and then dumps it off as heat[Dynamic Braking]. 

Huw about NS #999 (?) A battery locomotive that they have been working on now for several years, and it still seems to be not much more than a research tool?   Is that going to be the future, I am no engineer but it seems that lead acid bateries are slowly loosing out to the more 'modern' batteries that utilize exotic combinations of metals to utilize their capacity. [ Battery types that on a small scale power the various electronic devices these days.]  In a larger size, would they be useful until they explode? Seems they would potentially, be able to turn a locomotive crew into modern  Kamikazies(?)Whistling

Natural Gar would carry its own sets of problems, and rewards, as it powered trains around the country. 

Link to TRAINS Newswire article @ http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2015/01/bnsf-moves-lng-testing-north

and this linked article from Progressive Railroading @ https://www.progressiverailroading.com/csx/article/Whats-next-in-emerging-technologies-for-short-line-railroads-Quite-a-bit--49362

Electric Powered utilization would require , it seems, a re-engineering of the entire American/Canadian and Mexican railroad net.(?)

 

 

 

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, April 12, 2018 10:37 PM

samfp1943
I am a little surprised that it seems that no poster noted that current locomotive fleet utilizes its own power generation, and then dumps it off as heat[Dynamic Braking].

Sam, 'regenerative braking' is dynamic braking (which has nothing to do formally with 'dumping energy off as heat' but with providing counter EMF to motion in the motors) recovering some proportion of the braking energy, in the case of a hybrid as useful storage for propulsion.  Since a great deal of modern train handling is done with dynamic rather than friction braking, recovery of that power during the potentially long run 'to California' does represent a reasonable motive-power savings, or alternatively an absolute emissions reduction for a given required consist peak drawbar hp inside California, certainly within particular air-quality management districts.

Lead-acid batteries are functionally ill-suited to just about any railroad application; in my opinion, designing modern high-energy-density batteries with adequate cell and array cooling and strong, armored inter-cell structure is a far superior answer.  It is not particularly difficult to design a crossbar switching system for the battery that allows temperature and rise rate in individual cells to be monitored, and charging parameters adjusted in response.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, April 13, 2018 6:56 AM

Another issue that has been overlooked is the price of natural gas.  Like any commodity, its price can swing pretty widely and not necessarily in the same general pattern as crude oil.

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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, April 13, 2018 8:28 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

Another issue that has been overlooked is the price of natural gas.  Like any commodity, its price can swing pretty widely and not necessarily in the same general pattern as crude oil.

 

It has in the past.  It probably will in the future.  But, in the long term, it competes with oil on a BTU basis.  As the gap in price drives gas consumption up, the price gap narrows.

If I were a RR, I'd leave natural gas alone.  

I'm still thinking that electrification of mainlines is a better investment than battery power.  

Some "back of the envelope" math...

Gallon of diesel has 40 hw-hrs of energy.  Loco holds 4000 gallons. Efficiency is roughly 33%.  So road loco would need to store 53,000 KW-hrs of electrical energy.  

A Tesla 10KW-hr "powerwall" battery costs $3500.  You'd need to spend $19M in batteries to build a road loco.  For a fleet of 2000 of these beasts you'd spend $38B.  If you purchased electrics at, say $5M each, you'd have $28B left over to string wire.  

Catenary is about $2 M/route-mil, so you could string wire over 14,000 miles of route.  

Electrification is a slam dunk unless batteries get an order of magnitude cheaper.

Other factors in favor of electrification over battery include no need to replace worn out batteries due to cycling.  No risk of battery fires, no need to build and install charging stations.  No "running out of fuel".

Electrics also contribute to increased velocity which reduces equipment costs.

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Posted by rdamon on Friday, April 13, 2018 9:09 AM
I agree with the electrification comments. I could see a third rail application in the trenches of Southern California. Maybe a hybrid electric-battery setup in such areas.  The continued grade separation projects lend itself to this type of installation.
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Posted by kgbw49 on Friday, April 13, 2018 7:59 PM

Just a couple of questions for the sake of gaining knowledge.

Would electrification of CA main lines require swapping power at Needles, Sparks, Yuma, etc.? Also, what kind of clearance is needed for the catenary above doublestacked containers? Would overpasses and tunnels have to be undercut to give clearance for doublestacks?

Thanks in advance for sharing any knowledge!

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, April 14, 2018 5:23 AM

kgbw49
Just a couple of questions for the sake of gaining knowledge.

Would electrification of CA main lines require swapping power at Needles, Sparks, Yuma, etc.? Also, what kind of clearance is needed for the catenary above doublestacked containers? Would overpasses and tunnels have to be undercut to give clearance for doublestacks?

Thanks in advance for sharing any knowledge!

Double stacks are 20 feet 2 inches high.  My understanding is that new built overpasses are required to clear the top of rail by 25 feet.  I am certain that any number of existing tunnels and structures are less that 25 feet ATR.  How much would have to be done to install catanery for safe operation I don't know.  I don't know how much 'arc over' distance is required for safety.

         

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Posted by Euclid on Saturday, April 14, 2018 7:58 AM

If all of this specialized electrification is only needed to comply with California regualtions, shouldn't shipping rates be raised for California rail customers in order to cover the extra cost of their regulations?

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Posted by jeffhergert on Saturday, April 14, 2018 9:10 AM

The Milwaukee Road on their electrification had the trolley wire at 24' 2" above the top of the rail.

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Saturday, April 14, 2018 12:55 PM

BaltACD
How much would have to be done to install catanery for safe operation I don't know. I don't know how much 'arc over' distance is required for safety.

It depends on Voltage.
Germany: 15 kV 16.666 Hz; standard height contact wire 18'-0.5'', minimum 16'-3''; height bi-level cars 15'-2.4''. Standard safety distance is about 3', minimum about 1'

United Kingdom: 25 kV 50 Hz; Standard safety distance 2'-4'', minimum 1'-3''

Additionally one needs a safety distance to structures but both can get minimized when the contact wire is neutral under short bridges and tunnels. Momentum will carry on the train.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Sunday, April 15, 2018 3:21 PM

There are also 'shields - think fiberglass, about 4 ft. wide - that can be placed between the catenary wire and the structure overhead.  That effectively reduces the required 'air gap' separation up to the structure to near zero - though some clearance is still needed so the current collector doesn't physically contact the shield - since the distance across half the width of the shield to the closest edge is greater than ther required air gap of 1+ ft. per Volker's data above.

- PDN. 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Sunday, April 15, 2018 4:47 PM

I am going to ask a very-layperson question.

If BNSF would string catenary in CA, would that require a power swap on every train?

If so, how much time would have to be added to schedules?

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Posted by erikem on Sunday, April 15, 2018 5:18 PM

Some general comments:

The power probably would have to be swapped at the CA line, and this was the consensus when the SCRRA was looking at electrification of the SoCal freight lines. The expactation was that catenary would have to be placed 25' above the top of the rail to accomodate double stacks and growth in rail height from track maintenance.

There is a lot of knowledge about proper packaging of Li-ion bateris for EV's, so the main development effort for RR use would be proper shock mounting. Note that the packaging includes both thermal management and state of charge management.

Li-ion battery packs are good for at least 150 w-hr/kg, which works out to ~135 kwhr/ton (ton = 2,000lb). I would guess that a six axle slug would be capable of holding 100 tons of batteries, say 13.5Mwhr. This would be equivalent of 19,000 prime mover hp-hr. Estimates for cost of EV battery packs are running around $180/kw-hr, so we're looking at $2.4 million for the batteries alone. This may be cheaper than electrification for getting trains out of the L.A. air basin...

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Posted by PJS1 on Sunday, April 15, 2018 6:24 PM

tree68
 It might be more worthwhile to put in a solar powered charging station, using ground mounted panels. Trying to be green, you know! 

You could be right.  El Paso Electric, after surveying its customers, has decided to built one or more solar farms for its customers.  It seems that many of them want green power - solar, but don't want the hassle of putting the panels on their roofs. 

Another win for the competitive electric energy market in Texas!

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, April 16, 2018 6:55 AM

It's probably cheaper, too.  As I've mentioned elsewhere, Georgetown TX draws its electric power from wind and solar, and saves its customers a lot of money.

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, April 16, 2018 7:30 AM

erikem
Li-ion battery packs are good for at least 150 w-hr/kg, which works out to ~135 kwhr/ton (ton = 2,000lb). I would guess that a six axle slug would be capable of holding 100 tons of batteries, say 13.5Mwhr. This would be equivalent of 19,000 prime mover hp-hr. Estimates for cost of EV battery packs are running around $180/kw-hr, so we're looking at $2.4 million for the batteries alone. This may be cheaper than electrification for getting trains out of the L.A. air basin...

If I did the math right, 19,000 HP-HR = about 1000 gallons of diesel locomotive range. Okay for getting out of the LA basin, but not ready for the long haul.  You'd be playing "Pony Express".

Getting to the current six axle locomotive range would require ~$10M in batteries.

 

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, April 16, 2018 8:01 AM

Speaking of the Pony Express, such a change would take a few minutes longer than the Pony Express changes did.

On the topic of changes, I am not sure the people in Denver know how to couple or uncouple cars. Last fall, some private cars were added to the train I was on, and it took several tries before the job was done. This past Satuday, I am not sure what was being done (we left Chicago with one private car on the rear), but whatever it was took two or three bumps to accomplish.

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Posted by WM7471 on Monday, April 16, 2018 9:48 AM

kgbw49

It would be interesting to see if they develop large “battery tenders” that get charged while rolling through other states and then take over supplying the traction motors at the CA State Line. The science and engineering will be interesting no matter the solution.

 

IIRC G.E. already has patents on some type of "Battery Tender".  However, I don't remember any of the details.    Since there are heavy grades on most of the lines out of the L.A. Basin, batteries do not seem to be a good solution.   

Hanging caternary seems to be the logical choice. 

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, April 16, 2018 10:09 AM

WM7471

 

 
kgbw49

It would be interesting to see if they develop large “battery tenders” that get charged while rolling through other states and then take over supplying the traction motors at the CA State Line. The science and engineering will be interesting no matter the solution.

 

 

 

IIRC G.E. already has patents on some type of "Battery Tender".  However, I don't remember any of the details.    Since there are heavy grades on most of the lines out of the L.A. Basin, batteries do not seem to be a good solution.   

Hanging caternary seems to be the logical choice. 

 

Might not be as bad as it would seem.  If you have enought oomph to get to the top of the grade, you can recover some of it on the way back down, so recharging at the other end wouldn't be as long....

Electrification also allows regenerative braking, so both beat the diesels...

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, April 16, 2018 5:57 PM

Found this on the Web - contains some discussion of the battery tender concept:

http://railtec.illinois.edu/articles/Files/Conference%20Proceedings/2015/IHHA_2015_PAPER%20224.00_FULLERTON_G_DICK_CT.pdf

This is from the CARB - Pages VI 1-VI 2 AND VI 10-VI 16 discuss using battery tenders to get from the Ports of LA/LB to Barstow as zero-emission miles.

https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/tech/techreport/freight_locomotives_tech_report.pdf

 

 

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Posted by erikem on Monday, April 16, 2018 11:39 PM

oltmannd

If I did the math right, 19,000 HP-HR = about 1000 gallons of diesel locomotive range. Okay for getting out of the LA basin, but not ready for the long haul.  You'd be playing "Pony Express".

Your math seems about right.

To get much more than my estimate of 19,000 HP-HR on a six axle locomotive will require an advance in commerically available batteries. Li-S batteries are supposedly good for 450 w-hr/kg, which may give close to 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel equivalent, but those batteries are still in the experimental stage. Eeven with that, we're still looking at playing "Pony Express".

In the long run catenary will likely be much sheaper than batteries, but the battery locomotives have the advantage that they can be moved around to where they are needed.

I still think GE messed up with the way they were trying to sell their hybrid locomotive. IMHO, the killer application is to increase the number of trains per hour that can be handled in long tunnels - with the battery providing half the power, that means the diesel engine would be working half as hard and dumping half the exhaust and heat into the bore.

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