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  #1  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2020, 12:17 AM
llamaorama llamaorama is offline
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Idea for battery electric freight trains...

Electrification is expensive and the economics of it almost require both very high frequency train movements as well as very cheap electricity.

But what about batteries? In most modes of transportation the issue with batteries is they are heavy and they take forever to charge. In cars, improvements in battery tech making them lighter and charge faster is cornerstone of making electric cars viable as a full replacement for most IC vehicles as mandated by the EU and some other nations in about 15-20 years.

Trains are different though. They are heavy, but more importantly they are modular. Battery swap tech has been an idea that's gotten some attention for cars but it still is kind of problematic because how do you mechanically change out a battery and where do you deposit it when its finished?

Here's the idea: take a boxcar. Stuff a ton of batteries in it. Put a transformer and a high voltage power connector on existing diesel electric locomotives that allow the electric traction motors to draw from the battery car instead of the onboard diesel engines. At various points in the rail network, have a siding where the battery box cars are added to the rest of the train and then dropped of for charging when depleted.

Now you've electrified a railway but there's compatibility with the rest of the network, a diesel locomotive can switch to fuel for energy when operating in a certain region and pick up a battery car in another. If the train has to go up a steep grade it could use diesel to augment the batteries. You don't have to invest in a ton of new battery electric locomotives that might not have enough power. Also maybe instead of boxcars, the battery cars would be repurposed former locomotives. Then they could sit at the front of the train with a cab and the right weight and crash protection, and perhaps have limited self-propulsion for ease in moving them around.

Just a thought. I am not a train expert. I am not even a serious train geek. You can now tell me why my idea is terrible. It seems so obvious though...
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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2020, 1:35 AM
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I like it! Solar could also be installed along the rail right-of-ways.
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  #3  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2020, 3:40 AM
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Originally Posted by 202_Cyclist View Post
I like it! Solar could also be installed along the rail right-of-ways.
instead of solar roads solar tracks. then people would ride bikes on the track because its smooth. nm that.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2020, 4:15 AM
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Here's an article about some plans in Germany: https://www.greencarreports.com/news...ally-in-europe

It seems the range isn't that great but this is also without dedicated battery cars...
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2020, 4:52 AM
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electricron electricron is offline
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Lightbulb

Great, let's see how big the battery would have to be.
First, let's look at the motors in freight diesel-electric motors.
Take the EMD SD70 as an example. Initially 4000 HP and 3000 KW powerplants that grew fairly quickly up to 4500 HP and 3200 KW. That's the equivalent of 3.2 MW.
To run that locomotive at full power for just an hour, you will need a 3.2 million watt-hour battery cell, and as many cells needed for your desired voltage.
Gee makes a 1 MWhr lithium ion battery that is transportable.
https://geebattery.com/battery/1mw-l...storage-system
Rated Continuous Output is 0.645MW for a duration of less than 2 hours.
That's about one fifth of what is needed to match the diesel-electric locomotive at full power.

Of course, that was assuming the diesel locomotive was providing full power all the time, which of course it does not.

All of the equipment is assembled in a standard 20-foot container, include fire services, smoke alarm, grounding-products and heat management system. Do not confuse storage capacity with output capability. We will need 5 of these units vs 3, and we might have to set the battery aside and pick up a new one every hour.

You might see battery power locomotives in switchers near major rail yards where the train speed is around 10-20 mph maximum. But I believe we will not see them on long distance freight hauls for a long. long time.

Additionally, GE makes a 30 MW lithium ion battery, but it is for stationary sites.

Prices for everything is not stated on any of their web sites. But I bet they are not cheap.

Last edited by electricron; Nov 22, 2020 at 5:18 AM.
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  #6  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2020, 2:52 PM
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Lightbulb

Apparently, BNSF is already testing a battery powered locomotive.
https://www.bnsf.com/news-media/rail...ocomotive.html

But the key for its usage is in a consist with regular diesel electric locomotives.
They are not planning on using it in an entire consist of battery powered locomotives.

Note, 20,000 to 50,000 lithium ion cells in the battery of that locomotive.
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  #7  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2020, 6:24 PM
llamaorama llamaorama is offline
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Thank you electricron from taking the time to leave such a serious, informed reply. I guess the feasibility of hot swapping battery cars in a train consist is still quite a bit of a ways off then.

Regarding that experimental locomotive from BNSF, I wonder if you could have something like that and then add a pantograph. Not for running under wire for miles, but rather for easy charging. I immediately think of those Proterra electric buses that can connect with an overhead charger.

This wouldn't work for long haul freight but it would work for last-mile branch lines.
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  #8  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2020, 9:38 PM
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Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
Thank you electricron from taking the time to leave such a serious, informed reply. I guess the feasibility of hot swapping battery cars in a train consist is still quite a bit of a ways off then.

Regarding that experimental locomotive from BNSF, I wonder if you could have something like that and then add a pantograph. Not for running under wire for miles, but rather for easy charging. I immediately think of those Proterra electric buses that can connect with an overhead charger.

This wouldn't work for long haul freight but it would work for last-mile branch lines.
Google, or any other search application you prefer, can be your friend.
The BNSF test locomotive will have over 20,000 lithium ion cells in their huge battery bank. To put that into perspective, a 2018 Nissan Leaf battery bank has 192 cells. Let’s just give it 200 just to make the math simpler. Math = 20,000/200 = 100
Yes, the battery in the locomotive will be 100 times larger than the battery in a Leaf. The price for a replacement Leaf battery is around $5,500.
More Math = 100 x $5,500 = $550,000.

Yes, add a cool half million dollars to the price of the locomotive! Well, not really because you could deduct the price for the diesel-electric generator.

But, you would need an even larger and more expensive battery for full long range battery operations. How much more will you be willing to spend?
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  #9  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2020, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Apparently, BNSF is already testing a battery powered locomotive.
https://www.bnsf.com/news-media/rail...ocomotive.html

But the key for its usage is in a consist with regular diesel electric locomotives.
They are not planning on using it in an entire consist of battery powered locomotives.

Note, 20,000 to 50,000 lithium ion cells in the battery of that locomotive.
IIRC, Norfolk Southern has been testing battery switching locomotives.

Progress Rail also developed one and PHL is getting it next year:

https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wir...ery-locomotive

This is the only application they make any sense for right now.
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  #10  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2020, 4:40 AM
EmmaOlivia EmmaOlivia is offline
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Wabtec's new battery-powered locomotive is scheduled to be piloted. I remembered my father told me that, the hybrid freight train will be operated by the nation's largest railroad.
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 27, 2020, 1:20 AM
ssiguy ssiguy is offline
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Hydrogen, is the only practical solution to freight just as it is for cargo vessels, long distance truck, airplanes, ferries, cruise ships, long distance passenger rail and agricultural equipment.
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  #12  
Old Posted Nov 27, 2020, 8:48 PM
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the coolest part about batteries on trains is you can use the roof space. you could put bikes on the roof on light rail trains. in new york people put all their stuff on trains when they move because they dont have a car, you could put it all on a lift that goes up out of the way.
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  #13  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2020, 2:28 AM
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Originally Posted by PersonOfInterest View Post
You want to stick them in the floor, so you can do sweet drifts in your bus.
i dont have a bus, but ive always wanted a vw bus and to drift it.
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