Progress Rail Battery Switcher

67 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 5,192 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 10:57 PM

FWIW, most of California's geothermal power comes from the Geysers geothermal plant, which generates a lot less waste than the Brawley plant. The radionuclides are normally occuring radioactive material (NORM) - I would suspect the radiation levels around that waste would be lower than standing by the pallet of potassium chloride water softening pellets at Home Depot.

A little history of NORM related to deep wells.  US border stations have radiation detectors to scan for radioactive material being smuggled in.  The detectors kept going off for truckloads of used oilfield casing.  Turns out that the pipe sometimes has significant mineral scale on it form oilfield brines.  Now when casing is remove from a well, e.g., from plugging the well, all pipe must be scanned for NORM.  Any pipe detected above criteria, either has to be reused in another well, or lowered back into the well to be plugged (well below fresh water aquafers) and cemented in place and abandoned with the well.

I would also expect the geothermal power generated from frac'd rocks to produce a lot less waste than the Brawley plant.

EGS which would involve the water passing thru fractured rock would be expected to generate NORM.  AGS where the fluid is contained in pipe in a closed loop thru the geothermal zone would avoid that.

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • 951 posts
Posted by Erik_Mag on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 11:55 PM

My inderstanding is that Customs is also looking for other things as well with the radiation detectors. A lot of biological materials have high levels of potassium, which emits 1+MeV gammas.

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 4,257 posts
Posted by M636C on Thursday, December 17, 2020 6:39 AM




It won't have 99% active use time - unless it can recharge the batteries in a time frame equivalent to pumping fuel into a diesel-electric.



Cover it with solar panels?



There is at least one train that claims to use solar power...

This was an early adopter of flexible solar panels on the roof as can be seen on the website photos. The train operates on batteries which are charged from fixed solar cells on the car shed as well as being topped up a little by the roof mounted cells.

It retains one (of the original two) Cummins diesel for emergency use driving through a hydraulic transmission while  the electric motor uses a separate driveline.


  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,282 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, December 17, 2020 7:57 AM

I still think the use of solar thermal for these 'boutique' services might be interesting.  There was a proposal for a 'California Solar Train' which involved using a combinarion of solar heating and energy storage to provide effective charging (of hot water, then steam) to operate a small fireless-cooker type locomotive, more as a tourist attraction than an industrial service. However, this represents a less capital-intensive and perhaps less long-term maintenance cost-intensive way to produce useful tractive effort from 'free' sunlight...

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,282 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 18, 2021 8:06 PM

Bumping this because I can't remember where the CN (CP - thanks, Bob!)hydrogen-locomotive thread is: here is an interesting discussion of a few of the zero-carbon alternatives, including the Joule, from a knowledgeable source:

  • Member since
    December 2017
  • From: I've been everywhere, man
  • 3,358 posts
Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, February 18, 2021 8:14 PM

CP is trying hydrogen power, not CN (at least not yet).

This is the first time I've heard that Tier 5 is an official reality.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: ShelbyTwp., Michigan
  • 1,031 posts
Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Thursday, February 18, 2021 11:35 PM

It's time to make plans on expanding the grid so electrification of main lines can eventually take place. I don't see batteries or fuel cells as viable road units. Yard and branch line work would be where they are best suited.

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 191 posts
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 2:58 PM

'Tis as the Good Book says. "There is nothing new under the Sun"

Ninety (90) years ago Alco and GE were building Tri-Power switchers for the NYC

GE three-power boxcab - Wikipedia

Hundreds - maybe thousands - of battery locomotives have built for mine service



Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy