2019 CSCE Annual Conference - Laval (Greater Montreal)

2019 CSCE Annual Conference - Laval (Greater Montreal) Conference

Applying Hydrail as a Zero-emission rail power Gateway Technology to in-service Switcher locomotive duty cycles

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Mr. Mohamed Hegazi, University of British Columbia
Dr. Gordon Lovegrove, University of British Columbia, Canada (Presenter)

This paper presents:

  1. The background on Hydrail (Hydrogen fuel cell / battery hybrid rail power) as a gateway technology towards zero-emission, non-diesel passenger and freight rail in North America.
  2.  The methodology used to study the power dynamics of a switcher (shunt) locomotive employed at Southern Railway of BC’s New Westminster yard.

Switcher locomotives are typically below 1500 HP and are used to move railway cars around a yard, usually to assemble or disassemble a main line train consist. This results in very different power dynamics from main line locomotives. Switcher locomotives are rarely operated at constant power, their power profile is highly dynamic for a railway vehicle due to the nature of their usage. Most freight locomotives, including switcher locomotives, in North America are diesel-electric. Diesel engines are typically not more than 55% efficient when operated at certain RPMs. This efficiency drops significantly when the power output of the engine is changed. This characteristic of diesel engines makes switcher locomotives highly inefficient and the most polluting locomotive type on a per horsepower basis. The motivation behind studying the power dynamics of switcher locomotives is to produce a standardized duty cycle which can be used in the study of alternative propulsion systems.

The research team designed and deployed a telemetric system made up of an on-board wireless voltmeter and ammeter. These sensors measured the locomotive’s generator voltage and current, relayed the measured real-time data to an on-board laptop, which then relayed the measured data to an off-site database using cellular communications. This setup aided in the collection of high integrity data for an entire month. The paper also presents the work performed in analyzing the collected data, and in combining the collected data with data from the on-board event recorder to more accurately understand the operation and performance characteristics of switcher locomotives.  Monitored variables included: speed, pneumatic brake system pressure, throttle position, power output, time, distance and position.

The ultimate goal of this duty cycle research is to apply it in testing a hydrail power plant retrofit into a switcher locomotive for use by Southern Railway of BC.  This paper will present results of research to date, including duty cycle, retrofit design, and business case.  With over 24,000 diesel locomotives in NA, the commercialization potential is significant.