Friday, 23 June 2017

Hydrogen Trains on Trial

Alstom has run the first tests of its Coradia iLint passenger train, claimed to be the first in the world to be run on electricity from a hydrogen fuel cell. The test, which took place at the company’s test track in Lower Saxony, Germany, saw the train running at 80km/h.  The test marked the start of 4 weeks of iLint trials, which will check stability of the energy supply system and the interface between the electric and pneumatic brake systems.

Alstom claim the train uses innovative clean energy conversion, flexible battery storage, and smart management of traction power.  While the trial is running on hydrogen produced as a by-product of industrial processes, the long-term plan is to generate hydrogen from wind power.

Further tests in the Czech Republic will see the train running at its full-service speed of 140km/h

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Autonomous Refuse Trucks debut in the UK

Volvo Group has debuted an autonomous Refuse Truck to help speed up delivery and improve safety and environmental concerns.

Developed in collaboration with recycling firm Renova, the truck is driven manually the first time to ‘learn’ the route with the help of sensors and GPS. Thereafter, on entering a mapped area the next time, it knows which route to follow and at which bins it needs to stop.

At the first stop, with the automated system activated, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and empties it as normal. When the operation is completed, the truck automatically reverses to the next bin upon the driver’s command.
The driver walks the same route as the truck to have a full view of what is happening in the direction of travel. Reversing, rather than driving forwards, enables the driver to remain closer to the compactor during collections.
Volvo said the self-driving truck aims to reduce the risks associated with reversing an HGV in urban areas, even when fitted with cameras. Sensors continuously monitor the vehicle’s vicinity and the truck stops immediately if an obstacle suddenly appears in its path, or if the driver activates the emergency stop function.
This is reproduced from an article in Motor Transport magazine. For the full details see THIS item.

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Solar Power opportunity for UK Rail

A new collaboration between Imperial College London, UK charity 10:10, Turbo Power Systems, Community Energy South, and Energy Futures Lab is becoming the first in the world to investigate the possibility of fixing solar panels directly to train tracks to provide electricity. The project is funded through the Innovate UK Game Changers Programme.

The Renewable Traction Power Project is first going to focus on the possibility of adapting the existing third rail system, which involve a power line close to the ground. This system is currently used on one third of the UK's tracks, and the system should be relatively easy to adapt to using solar panels. With network rail investing billions of pounds into electrifying the UK's train lines, researchers predict a massive cut in the carbon footprint of the rail system by 2050.

This is a summary of an article from Energy Live News, read the full article HERE

This post was compiled on behalf of Weald Technology by Sophie Lane, March 2017.

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The European Electric Vehicle Market

In Northern European countries policy shifts are looming that will restructure the automobile landscape, making way for electric vehicles (EV’s). In Norway, the four leading political parties have agreed that in order to tackle air pollution all internal-combustion (IC) passenger cars must be banned by 2025. In the Netherlands, a similar proposition is being made to restrict all IC cars from cities by 2025.

Both countries also have a host of incentives stimulating EV up-take. In Norway, EV's are allowed in bus lanes; pay no value-added tax and are given purchase-tax exemption (which accounts for 50% of the price of an IC car); are given free parking; free toll road and tunnel access; and reduced ferry fees. It is no wonder that the country is the largest EV market in Europe, with ownership rising from 18,000 in 2013 to 50,000 in 2015.

But what about the rest of Europe? Can such strong policies be expected in other countries?

Laurie Laybourn-Langton of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) explains how doing so in London and the UK would be much more challenging. Instead of the blanket ban proposed by Norway and the Netherlands, a graduated reduction of ICs is more attractive, through various policy incentives, such as low emission zones and EV sales targets for car manufacturers.
 
This is for two main reasons: firstly, the population is much larger, and second, the UK has already pursued specific policies including tax incentives to move towards diesel. As such, to change course abruptly now would come up against huge resistance.

Public awareness of air pollution has kept transport emissions high on the agenda in major European cities (as seen with Paris’s ban on certain vehicles types on alternating days). Following the Brexit outcome, however, the UK will be free from EU emissions legislation and fines, and could give up the higher standards of EU environmental protections. In concern for climate change and air pollution, the IPPR among many others are urging British ministers to commit to equal protections post-Brexit.

Europe’s first major emission regulations came in following the Kyoto Protocol in 2009. This was the impetus for the UK’s move towards diesel, which has a lower CO2 output than petrol. More recent research (particularly surrounding the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal), however, has revealed air pollution and CO2 emissions from diesel are higher than previously thought. Thus consumers and policy makers are quickly moving away from diesel engines, placing EVs as an even more attractive option.

While many European countries and cities are taking actions to tackle emissions, Hildermeier argues that this patchwork of commitment is not enough, and that to give manufacturers clear market appeal, Europe-wide legislation is needed. The European Commission announced a Union-wide strategy for air quality improvement and low emission targets in 2016, which many have welcomed. However, we have yet to see stronger policy mechanisms such as sales targets and quotas for manufacturers, as seen in California and China, where the shift to electrification is more advanced.

Laybourn-Layton also raises a key issue so far neglected - in many major cities a ban on diesel passenger cars is not the correct target as most inner-city air pollution is caused by buses and taxis. Urban commuter transport is changing rapidly, with private vehicle ownership declining while integration of public transport modes is increasing. Therefore an “approach across a range of transportation methods may well be the solution.”

Consumers stand to benefit from the shift to EVs, because although they cost more than IC vehicles, Julia Hildermeier of Belgium’s Transport and Environment think-tank argues that with lower fuel costs and various government incentives, “the running costs over the equivalent lifetime are considerably cheaper, so there is payback within three to four years.”

Hildermeier reflects on China where rampant air pollution has encouraged a strong push towards full electrification. The country already has a host of native car makers, suppliers and battery manufacturers - ‘it’s all in place and they apply the regulations’. Building Europe’s EV industries is an important objective if we wish to be a leader in this new market, instead of importing Chinese products.

Whatever pathway Europe takes to lowering transport emissions - whether a blanket ban or a graduated shift - it is clear a concerted, integrated approach that speaks both to manufacturers and consumers is necessary.

This is a summary of an article in Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. You can read the full article HERE.

This post was compiled on behalf of Weald Technology by Hugh Reed, March 2017.

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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
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