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Metra RFP for Battery powered remanufacture

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Metra RFP for Battery powered remanufacture
Posted by YoHo1975 on Friday, April 23, 2021 12:23 PM

https://metrarail.com/about-metra/newsroom/metra-challenges-industry-create-battery-powered-zero-emission-locomotives

So, Metra wants to convert 3 F40s to Battery Power. I'm assuming somthing based on the EMD joule will come from Progress. And of course Wabtec has their Battery Freight unit. 

Joule is going to be testing on the PHL later this year.

One thing that wasn't clear to me based on other discussions is whether the trucks the Vale version uses would also be used in the US application. 

The F40s obviously have 4 axle trucks and that may pose a challenge for weight. One wonders if the old F40Cs might be a better candidate.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, April 23, 2021 1:51 PM

There are only 2 F40C's left and they seem to serve as protection power only.  With an RFP for converting 3 F40PH's, Metra is probably viewing the first three to double as demonstrators with an eye for future orders.

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 blue streak 1 on Friday, April 23, 2021 7:31 PM

Although I have my doubts this test might prove that a battery loco will work.  The heavy duty charging and discharging of the batteries definitely needs real world testing.  Hopefully the Li ion batteries will not fail or worse catch fire.  I suspect that  extreme fire protection will be installed to fore go any possibility of that happening.

The history of several aircraft fires from Li ion fires is not good.  Those include UPS at PHL, FED EX at Westchester and possibly one in eastern Europe plus others on the ground ..  Battery density may be a factor in these over heating.

These tests should run for at least for several years.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Friday, April 23, 2021 11:07 PM

There are some Lithium battery chemistries that are not susceptible tp thermal runaways leading to fire. Unfortunately, these come with a trade off of significantly lower energy for a given battery weight. Also note the latest Tesla incident where the fire department poured 30,000 gallons of water on what was left of the car and still couldn't put the fire out.

I would assume that there would be enough space in a locomotive carbody to provide enough space between battery backs to prevent the spread of a fire from one pack to another.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, April 24, 2021 1:30 PM

Erik_Mag
I would assume that there would be enough space in a locomotive carbody to provide enough space between battery backs to prevent the spread of a fire from one pack to another.

The chief danger of that assumption is that it presumes 'one' cell has caught fire in isolation (perhaps defective, or damaged individually by being shot or accidentally dinged by a falling wrench Wink).  In a fairly large number of potential scenarios many cells, or whole strings, will be raised to elevated temperatures, and merely allowing space between them even with multiple-shield nanoinsulation won't stave off chemical fire.

Much of the design in my opinion will hinge on good dielectric, fire-resistant, nonpolluting and nondegrading active cooling between cells in addition to careful firewalling and perhaps optimized module extraction or ejection.

Why no one has provided effective first-response equipment and training for BEV fires yet -- a great blind spot for Tesla, Einride, TuSimple et al. in general and Elon Musk in particular -- is a mystery to me.  30,000 gallons on a KNOWN lithium fire is dramatic and conclusive proof right there.

At a minimum what's needed is effective air and water-displacing foam followed by effective cocooning to put the vehicle in effective controlled-atmosphere, followed by effective gettering and gas blanketing, probably with cryo.  None of this is particularly unknown new technology -- just resolve and sensible design and 'IxD development' for fast effective use when there is no time to think about detailed steps.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Saturday, April 24, 2021 2:08 PM

The pace of change and improvement in battery tech has been so fast of late as the costs plummet that one has to imagine these problems are going to get plenty of engineer effort directed to them.

 

I don't recall the details of the tesla fire. But haven't they had major iterations on the battery since then.

 

These are the technological challenges for sure. But right now seems to be the moment they are being addressed. 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, April 24, 2021 2:43 PM

YoHo1975
I don't recall the details of the Tesla fire. But haven't they had major iterations on the battery since then.

I think this involves the recent fire, less than a week ago, not the one in late 2018.  I see all sorts of posts (Teslarati somewhat predictably among them) with accounts from the firefighters that 'there's more to the story' (for example: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.caranddriver.com/news/amp36189237/tesla-model-s-fire-texas-crash-details-fire-chief/).

Doubt there are extensive changes that could be made in that timeframe, although there may be some crossbar switching possible via software reprogramming.  

These are the technological challenges for sure. But right now seems to be the moment they are being addressed. 

The fundamental issue is that the energy density has to increase to levels comparable to (cost-effective) hydrocarbon fuels, using materials that release the electrical energy quickly on demand.  Large amounts of most any technology that now does those things involves material that is highly reactive to water in any form.  Once you have either breached the containing structure or instituted an energy runaway through overheating the carefully-reduced-component-thickness design, you have all that energy density to come out, with the designed degree of quickness.  Unsurprisingly an architecture that would support Ludicrous+ will also support a dandy fire...

 Note that buried down in the RPS site is an approach that cost-effectively reuses 'worn-out' batteries from the swelling stream of BEV road vehicles that no longer hold a useful charge.  These can be had very cost-effectively (if you think about it a moment) and the approach can take advantage of the greater packaging space, ease of cooling, and weight-bearing optimization of even a short rail borne 'assisting road slug' frame...

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