Progress Rail Battery Switcher

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Progress Rail Battery Switcher
Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Thursday, October 15, 2020 3:38 PM
 

Here it is! The Progress Rail battery switcher for Vale Mining in Brazil. Progress is claiming this unit can operate up to 24 hrs without charge depending on duty cycles.

image description

 

Here's a link to the article

 
 
 
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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, October 15, 2020 4:30 PM

"Oh crap... I forgot to plug in the swticher before I left!"

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Thursday, October 15, 2020 6:07 PM
 

zugmann

"Oh crap... I forgot to plug in the swticher before I left!"

 

Yeah there's no mention of how it's charged. I'd assume plug in. 

 
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Posted by caldreamer on Thursday, October 15, 2020 6:16 PM

OK, i plug it in.  How long does it take to charge at 110 volts???

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, October 15, 2020 6:25 PM

I wonder if it is narrow gauge?  It's on 3-rail track, and the loco in the background looks bigger.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Thursday, October 15, 2020 6:36 PM
 

MidlandMike

I wonder if it is narrow gauge?  It's on 3-rail track, and the loco in the background looks bigger.

 

 

Brazil operates a tri gauge network; 1600mm, 1435mm, and 1000mm. Vale leases lines using; 1600mm, and 1000mm gauge. Yes this is a NG unit.

 
 
 
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Posted by York1 on Thursday, October 15, 2020 7:08 PM

I don't know anything about these, so this may be a silly question.

How does a locomotive with batteries compare in size with a normal diesel?

Without fuel tanks, diesel engine, and generator, do the batteries take up all that room?

York1 John       

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, October 15, 2020 9:20 PM

Interesting that almost everything about this locomotive refers to the initial publicity blitz that Progress sent out around mid-July... often so word-for-word that we can 'flip around the dial' and see whose editors are lazy or not.  I have so far not seen any technical discussion of the Joule at all, although it was promised in the press release.

Interestingly EMD only filed trademark on JOULE for locomotives in early July.

The unit has only been working in Brazil since late September, so perhaps not enough experience to comment on practical performance.  Amusingly it was delivered with a tarp covering it because the owner wanted a publicity 'big reveal'; the long hood has a Pakistani-bus color scheme "100% ELETRICA" supergraphic on it now.

It appears to me that EMD has tumbled to the understanding that aggressive battery cooling is a major key to practical use in flat switching just as it is for high performance in road vehicles.  There are radiator openings each side and I would presume a system of pumped liquid coolant through the cells as installed.  Depending on climate I'd expect this to 'double' with onboard heating to keep the battery at reasonable temperature.

You don't charge a system like this at 110 or even 220V.  A reasonable guide for what EMD and Vale will use can be found in the Tesla Megacharger (for trucks) where the battery 'strings' are charged in parallel, priportional to the nominal voltage per string.  (This is something just over 300V for many electric cars; I would predict it to be around nominal DC-link voltage for EMD's regular AC production locomotives if they have their production heads screwed on right). 100% ELETRICA means there is no onboard charging engine, something I expect they will eventually provide (using carbon-neutral renewable-derived fuel of course) when they have a little experience with 80-20 charge limits or the current equivalent for these actual cells -- EMD likely has fancy voltage-to-voltage conversion to extend "run time between recharges" but I predict that will be highly counterproductive in the long run for battery longevity if actually regularly used as such.  It will be interesting to see whether EMD has incorporated some or all of the DC-specific charging equipment on the locomotive, making only a connection to commercial grid power necessary at charging points (which is I think what I'd do on a locomotive in a heavy industrial facility) and whether there is a nominally lower-voltage charging mode for 'emergency' recovery using something like a mobile generator or starting cables from another locomotive.

Erik will know more than I do about practical recharge time at ~1200 to 1500V, presumably at industrial grid current levels.  The principal limit ought to be cell cooling related, which I'd expect to be adequate on the Joule if Progress has indeed learned the lesson about discharge.  I'd be surprised if the practical charge time to battery-imposed limit is greater than about 45 minutes; I expect the unit is sized with sufficient overhead capacity that even 'overworked' it will have reliable 24hr run time and hence can be scheduled for regular run to and from a charging point.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, October 15, 2020 9:37 PM

York1
Without fuel tanks, diesel engine, and generator, do the batteries take up all that room?

Looked at another way, you want as much 'battery' as you can afford.

In this particular case the Vale Joule does not have the full optional battery capacity installed, so I expect some of that long hood is either empty or has something else installed in it.  If cooling is liquid and competently designed there is little restriction on where in the locomotive the actual strings can go; it would be logical on a meter-gauge locomotive presumably bodied for North American clearances to have as much heavy equipment or battery in the area 'down low' below the frame and between the trucks as possible (comparable in part to the old GM 'skateboard' electric-car battery design) but I suspect EMD has done its DFM so that all Joules have their battery architecture relatively 'in common'.

Note that more battery is better whether you actually deep-cycle it or not, and the aggressive cooling arrangements may add considerable volume to the 'assembled' battery as installed in the locomotive; it is also possible that some space is reserved for access or optimized modular packaging for ease in maintenance or repair.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Friday, October 16, 2020 12:12 AM

Overmod

You don't charge a system like this at 110 or even 220V.

110V might be adeqaute to handle the self-discharge rate of the battery.

Erik will know more than I do about practical recharge time at ~1200 to 1500V, presumably at industrial grid current levels.  The principal limit ought to be cell cooling related, which I'd expect to be adequate on the Joule if Progress has indeed learned the lesson about discharge.  I'd be surprised if the practical charge time to battery-imposed limit is greater than about 45 minutes; I expect the unit is sized with sufficient overhead capacity that even 'overworked' it will have reliable 24hr run time and hence can be scheduled for regular run to and from a charging point.

My first guess is that a DC charging link would be at the battery voltage, charging time would be determined by how big a cable you would want to use. The ultimate limit is the battery itself, and presumably the battery will be charged at a rate conducive to many charge/discharge cycles.

I would wonder if the batteries are set up so that you would have several battery packs running in parallel, each with a dedicated contactor to isolate the individual packs - which then would allow for multiple lower current cables. An external connector that was hardwired to all of the batteries in parallel would be asking for trouble or a poor attempt to make a zeta pinch fusion reactor.

Power electronics have advanced to the point that a connection to 4160V 3 phase power isn't entirely out of the question.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 16, 2020 2:15 AM

Erik_Mag
My first guess is that a DC charging link would be at the battery voltage, charging time would be determined by how big a cable you would want to use. The ultimate limit is the battery itself, and presumably the battery will be charged at a rate conducive to many charge/discharge cycles.

The definition of 'battery voltage' here is what I meant by 'string voltage' -- I'm assuming that charging connections need not be the same as 'discharging' ones, so a nominal '1500V' battery might be a series/parallel combination of lower-voltage strings each with its own crossbar-switch connection to charging.  I think that is what you mean when you say
I would wonder if the batteries are set up so that you would have several battery packs running in parallel, each with a dedicated contactor to isolate the individual packs - which then would allow for multiple lower current cables.
I am assuming that any sensible large traction battery will be structured that way, especially if integrated with supercapacitor discharge management, and further with the ability to detect and as necessary 'switch out' cells that are defective, overheating, etc. or to rotate high discharge (analogous to how the GM Northstar handles LOCA 'limp-home' accommodation through selective cylinder activation).

An external connector that was hardwired to all of the batteries in parallel would be asking for trouble or a poor attempt to make a zeta pinch fusion reactor.

Nonetheless, provided you have an adequate current source (and competent cell cooling for the aggregate current and chemistry!) full parallel charge will give the shortest recharge time -- again, I think the discussions of the Tesla Megacharger covered many, if not most of the relevant issues by reasonably early on.  I do presume that the facility to be switched does in fact have access to high-amperage sources; the concern then becomes the trade off between time and current involved in sequential partially-parallel rather than full simultaneous parallel charging.

What I suspect might be used is rotating sequential fast-rate charge, with the 'addressing' being in part handled via the thermostatic measurement of cell temperature and its rate of change.  I believe many current lithium-ion chargers have temperature management so this is not 'new engineering'; the battery packs I was designing for a LSR motorcycle a few years ago were to be charged in strings this way.  The argument would then become whether to use more 'subdivision' of given discharge strings or conversion of the 110V power either via transformer or voltage-to-voltage conversion after rectification and filtering -- I would suspect the latter, although I don't know what the latest generation of 'plug-in hybrid' automobiles use for their 'wall charger' alternative.  The issue of trickle or float charging is, I think, related technically (although it remains to be seen if the Vale facility is set up in a way that allows the Jouse to move like an enormous Roomba to docking facilities with acceptably-low-voltage automatic connections).

Power electronics have advanced to the point that a connection to 4160V 3 phase power isn't entirely out of the question.

This vaguely disturbs me, as one of my prized college possessions was a 4160V switch removed from some improvement or other and 'adaptively reused' as a kind of theatrical prop when folks on commercial location shoots in Englewood started to get a bit too nosy about the layout of the house or its security system arrangements.  Further care would be needed in field connections and potential (no pun intended) arc flash -- you'd almost need powered connectors with active interlocks to be fully safe unless a full indoor 'dock' were built for the charging.  On the other hand, the 'hardest part' of 4160V charging, interruption of the charging current, would be limited by the state of charge reached by the cells and the charging controller, so accidental disconnection at the end of a cycle might be somewhat less traumatic...

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Friday, October 16, 2020 4:21 PM

With respect to 4.16kVAC charging: I would assume that vacuum contactors would be used to minimize space used. I would also assume that some sort of interlock would be used to prevent the contacts on the plug from being energized when the plug is not firmly seated. The power electronics needed to control charging almost certainly be capable of soft starting and soft stopping to minimize stress on the HV contactors.

My idea with charging battery modules individually does not preclude simultaneous charging, one option is to use multiple cables so that the cable and connector weights are reasonable. Another option is a bus energized at a potential somewhat higher than the maximum possible charge voltage and use individual buck converters to regulate individual charging voltage and current. This would provide one layer of isolation between the battery pack and external HVDC connector.

FWIW, similar issues crop up in data centers running on 380VDC with the batteries floating on the 380VDC bus.

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Friday, October 16, 2020 7:39 PM

Overmod:

Was calling the Joule locomotive the "Jouse", a typo or an intentional play-on-words on the slang expression for electric power "juice", as in "give it the juice" meaning switch the electric power back on?

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by creepycrank on Saturday, October 17, 2020 7:12 AM

What ever happened to NS battery locomotive No. 9999, Going down the energy trail it was recharged by by NS's steam stationary generating plant fired by coal.

Revision 1: Adds this new piece Revision 2: Improves it Revision 3: Makes it just right Revision 4: Removes it.
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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, October 17, 2020 8:08 AM

Paul Milenkovic
Was calling the Joule locomotive the "Jouse", a typo or an intentional play-on-words on the slang expression for electric power "juice", as in "give it the juice" meaning switch the electric power back on?

It was, in a word, the result of typing on a phone with a fever and missing it in repeat editing.

The 999 was another example of "engineers" not knowing quite enough practical railroading about how a switcher is supposed to be used.  If you design it as a 'green solution' or a penny-pinching use of alternative or 'waste' energy instead of a high-performance vehicle you will likely fail the same way.

Note there is a similar concern for fuel-efficient switchers.  Slow loading is a disaster there, whether to save money or fuel or to reduce emissions.  I still wonder why more genset engines aren't built with predictive engine start, so crews 'about to do' a shove can't get additional engines started and up to power notch "just-in-time" to be needed.  As I recall even the original built-out massively parallel "genset" locomotive (the Baldwin Essl locomotive that was rebuilt into the first Centipede) was able to be run that way...

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, October 17, 2020 11:10 AM

creepycrank
What ever happened to NS battery locomotive No. 9999, Going down the energy trail it was recharged by by NS's steam stationary generating plant fired by coal.

999 was sold awhile back. Looks to be in CA now.

https://cleantechnica.com/2020/06/19/zero-emission-locomotive-999-restored-for-use-in-california/

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, October 17, 2020 12:11 PM

zugmann
999 was sold awhile back. Looks to be in CA now.

That's good to see.  The last time I saw it was in Roanoke, with the cab windows knocked out.

Interesting that it's been engineered to use old (or remanufactured) hybrid-car batteries or strings, which is a logical source.  The latent worry I'd have is that batteries now 'uneconomically suitable' for hybrid-vehicle cycling might not be suitable for inherently high-drain and then heavy-charge repeat cycling.  I guess we'll see if they get it 'right' enough this time around.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Saturday, October 17, 2020 2:00 PM
 

Quote from the linked article

 

" It is expected to be used (at last) in commercial service in southern California’s Los Angeles Basin. Diesel engines are in wide use there and the region has horrible air quality as a result, the worst in the country."

Yeah it's not the millions of personal vehicles burning gasoline... It's the dozens of switch engines in the LA Basin..... 

The air quality has improved big time in LA from the time of my childhood there up until today..

 
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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, October 17, 2020 2:03 PM

Overmod

Note there is a similar concern for fuel-efficient switchers.  Slow loading is a disaster there, whether to save money or fuel or to reduce emissions.

This seems to be a near ideal solution for super/ultra capacitors, where the capacitors would be providing the power "right now" while the engines were loading. Lithium batteries intended for portable tools would be another option (high peak power, fast recharge).

Back in the 1960's the Milwaukee was actually stringing up wire on industrial trackage in the Butte and Deer Lodge areas as the electric switchers had instantaneous response to changes in the controller.

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Posted by bogie_engineer on Saturday, October 17, 2020 2:27 PM

I, too, am glad to see a new life for 999. I was brought in as a consultant in 2008  for the original build of that loco to design the equipment arrangement and then the structural design for the battery racks. The original plan was to use a quantity 60 of GNB 64 volt batteries of the same form factor as the SLS-710 loco starting battery. There were 48 batteries above deck in three racks of 16 each with 12 more below deck where the fuel tank usually sits. I did the design and FEA with a draftsman making the drawings - at that point I left the project and went on to other jobs. They built the racks as I had designed them but then decided to go the 12V battery way, why I don't know. I do know NS wanted to use a 12V battery developed by an offshoot of CAT called the Firefly which wasn't ready at the time. So they ended up making trays holding multiple 12V batteries that fit into the racks designed for the loco starting batteries. The 64V batteries were to be connected in strings of 10 in series to drive chopper modules for traction and accessories.

As far as the Joule, the only info I have gotten from my friends at PR is that this is a project led by Zeit who is part of Progress Rail Brazil.

Dave

 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, October 17, 2020 2:35 PM

Interesting page from Rail Propulsion Systems:

https://railpropulsion.com/products/hybrid-energy-storage-systems/

The strings are in 'cans' which self-isolate if anything goes wrong with them, and an annunciator system then points out the ones needing maintenance for service personnel.  I do not know if the cans are unwieldy to handle or move on and off the locomotive.  Cooling appears to be central ducted air rather than liquid.

Two items of potential interest:

1.  They indicate they were working on a zero-emission passenger locomotive to be ready "within six months"

2. (and even more interesting) they are working on a hybrid 'conversion' dor commuter trains, similar in principle to the GE battery locomotive.  The diagram next to the picture of 1201 refers to this system, I believe; it provides the 'hybrid' energy storage for a train with 3000hp prime mover.  Note the common 1200V bus, probably the 1200V DC-Link bus for AC synthesis...

I'd think Metrolink would move mountains to get grants of financing to use these...

 

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, October 17, 2020 10:34 PM

A reliable hybrid commuter lcomotive would make a lot of sense, especially if the batteries were of the type to put out significant power for a minute or so. Two big wins is a potential increase in acceleration and energy saving from regenerative braking.

Though it would be nice to have regenerative braking on the cars being hauled as schedule speed is partly defined by how fast trains can be stopped in addition how fast the can be brought up to speed.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, October 18, 2020 3:37 AM

Erik_Mag
A reliable hybrid commuter lcomotive would make a lot of sense, especially if the batteries were of the type to put out significant power for a minute or so.

You will be delighted to note that the actual graphic in their current promotion of the idea calls exclusively for 'ultracapacitors' rather than chemical batteries.  That indicated to me that Dave Cook had a very good grasp on what makes for a good self-contained hybrid system for the optimization of current non-electrified commuter rail.  In fact his 'module' would substitute nicely for wayside storage in a fully-electrified service -- the economics then being in large part whether it's better to build waysides by station or ZEBLs by consist.

Deceleration 'map' for a commuter train is determined with a maximum 'safe' rate -- you'll probably remember the design rates for BART; I think current recommendations are lower at something like 1.5fpsps.  This is something that should be easily accommodated as 'the reverse of acceleration' by eight axles with extended-range dynamic.  The cost of putting 'energy-recovering' braking on the car wheels would be a large percentage of actually motoring them; I doubt that the energy recovery and brake pad savings (and reduction of treadwear on locomotive wheels) over the life of the equipment would pay for the capital and maintenance over good blended conventional at the peak decel rate comfortable to passengers.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Sunday, October 18, 2020 11:37 PM

SD60MAC9500
 

Quote from the linked article

 

" It is expected to be used (at last) in commercial service in southern California’s Los Angeles Basin. Diesel engines are in wide use there and the region has horrible air quality as a result, the worst in the country."

Yeah it's not the millions of personal vehicles burning gasoline... It's the dozens of switch engines in the LA Basin..... 

 

Yeah, that made me laugh also! Give me a break.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 19, 2020 11:36 AM

Don't know how it's operating controls are arranged and implemented, one thing that should not be a complaint - it should load instantly when commanded to.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 10:09 AM

Excuse my cynicism but it appears that the only thing that electric automobiles, buses, locomotives, etc. will accomplish is to shift the source of pollution from the individual vehicles to the powerplant (somewhere else).

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Erik_Mag on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 1:47 PM

Electric autos may have some tie-ins with "renewable" energy sources if there is enough charging infratructure to allow for most autos to be connected to a charging station when not being used. This would allow for the EV's to be used as an adaptive load for the varying output of wind and solar generation.

Fossil fueled generation is shifting to combined cycle gas turbines, which should be pretty clean.

Hybrid switching and commuter locomotives can get a significant fuel saving from energy stored with regenrative braking. In addition, by using the energy stored energy to smooth out power demand from the prime mover may also result in further reductions in harmful emissions.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 2:08 PM
 

Erik_Mag

A reliable hybrid commuter lcomotive would make a lot of sense, especially if the batteries were of the type to put out significant power for a minute or so. Two big wins is a potential increase in acceleration and energy saving from regenerative braking.

Though it would be nice to have regenerative braking on the cars being hauled as schedule speed is partly defined by how fast trains can be stopped in addition how fast the can be brought up to speed.

 

Or even a DMUe-Hybrid. Commuters lines would benefit from a setup for local stop commuter service. 

 
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