• Battery Powered Locomotives (Norfolk Southern)

  • General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment
General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment

Moderator: John_Perkowski

  by Jeff Smith
Found this article interesting:

http://www.altenergystocks.com/archives ... omics.html
For the last two years I've been paying increasingly close attention to trailblazing work by Norfolk Southern (NSC) in the field of battery-powered locomotives. My interest was piqued in June of 2010 when Norfolk Southern hired Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) to develop a battery management system that would allow rail locomotives to run on battery power and recharge their batteries through regenerative braking. I believed the decision was positive news for Axion because nobody hires a battery manufacturer to design a BMS for somebody else's product. My enthusiasm was tempered, however, by knowing that an earlier Norfolk Southern retrofit, the NS 999, was unveiled in September 2009 and quickly proved to be an insurmountable challenge for the AGM batteries that were used in the original design. I also knew that a technical development project for a Class I Railroad would require a couple years of work before a rational implementation decision could be made.

A key milestone was reached this week when Axion announced that NS had ordered $475,000 of PbC® batteries that will be installed in the NS 999 over the next couple months. The two companies are also moving forward on a parallel development track for a larger and more powerful long-haul locomotive that will use twice the battery power.
Very interesting stuff. I would assume such motive power would be used in switching duty. Thoughts?
  by Jeff Smith
Nice :-D
  by Eliphaz
Switching, certainly, tunnel work, where applicable,
and banking - discharging pushing heavy trains uphill, recharging by braking trains downhill.
Those are clear niches, but even over-the-road haulage could be coming in to view very soon.

The advantage of refueling from the liberalized power grids in the northeast, lies in the amazing, modern counter-intuitive problem of what to do with surplus off peak power ! In recent years, there have been many "min gen" emergencies during the overnight hours, surplus power that the system operator can't shut off. Wind power most notably falls into this bucket, but also fossil and gas fired generators who are online may choose not to disconnect, and pay out rather than cycle their units which is costly in its own way. This is a far more troublesome problem than capacity shortages during the day time peaks! The answer is storage, but there's precious little out there.
Ive remarked on this in these forums before: a consumer who can ABSORB surplus power on-demand can GET PAID to do it! There are two mechanisms, 1st, the value of the megawatt during a min gen emergency can go negative, the generators pay to stay on line, consumers can get paid to take the power. secondly, the ability to perform this role is itself an asset with a value in the realm of Demand Side Management, just like voluntary curtailment during peak shortfalls can be. So, the lure - cheap, free and occasionally even negative cost fuel, and a monthly DSM capacity payment.
This situation is a key driver in the interest in electric automobiles - the deployment of many,many grid attached batteries in parked cars would be highly beneficial for grid reliability, and much cheaper for the drivers than gasoline as long as they cooperate. A fleet of locomotive sized batteries would be even better, fewer network nodes to manage and less human element risk.
The billion dollar question is whether the ability to arbitrage the energy markets, day vs night as well as electricity vs diesel (or CNG?) can be integrated into railroad operations, AND justify the investment in a sizable fleet of batteries.
Tall order.
To grasp just how odd this market situation truely is, imagine the price of gasoline at the gas station changed hourly, at 4PM the price could go to $100 a gallon and a fill up would cost you $2000 . At 4AM you could drive in, and instead of swiping your credit card, the pump would have a cash machine that might give you a few dollars when you were done pumping.
Exciting times.