Believe it or not, the holidays are quickly approaching and winter driving is not far behind. So, it’s time to think about how the changing seasons will impact road conditions. For many drivers, the solution for getting out of town (and off the beaten path) is a super-safe all-wheel drive vehicle. But traditionally, putting power to all four wheels has meant a big hit on fuel economy. (more…)
BNSF Railway, a Fort Worth, Texas company, is one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies. The company has a rail network of 32,000 route miles in 28 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.
Traditional rail transportation is highly efficient and uses significantly less fuel than highway alternatives. BNSF intends to improve upon that efficiency and has been experimenting with a hydrogen fueled fuel cell locomotive for the past several years.
Recently the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted BNSF’s patent covering fuel cell locomotives.
U.S. Patent Number 8,117,969, entitled “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Hybrid Locomotives” describes a locomotive including a set of batteries for driving a plurality of electric traction motors for moving the locomotive and a fuel cell power plant for charging the batteries and driving the electric traction motors.
The hydrogen hybrid locomotive is based on a commercially available diesel-hybrid donor platform. The locomotive design uses a cab section (101), which houses the control systems used by the controller, a center section (102), which contains the batteries and hydrogen storage tanks, a rear section (103) containing the hydrogen fuel cell power plant, and an adjustable ballast section (104) located under the chassis.
Ballast is needed because the locomotive does not carry heavy diesel fuel, which means the weight is significantly under the weight needed to maximize the traction of the wheels on the rails.
In the embodiment disclosed in the patent and shown in Figure 2 above, hydrogen is provided to two fuel cell power plants based on two power stack modules (201a – 201b). The fuel cells are proton exchange membrane cells and (in the preferred embodiment) are Ballard Power Systems, Inc Mk903 PEM fuel cell stacks.
Hydrogen is provided to the power modules from 14 carbon-fiber composite tanks (204). Power from the fuel cell is delivered to a DC converter (203) and to the locomotive systems including the traction motors (209a – 209d). The power output of the fuel cell stacks can be varied depending on demand by adjusting the flow of air through the system.
BNSF has an operational fuel cell locomotive prototype serving in a demonstration project in Los Angeles. Funding for the locomotive came from BNSF and the Department of Defense. The prototype is a switch locomotive, which moves freight cars within rail yards and rail stations during train assembly and disassembly.
The prototype was unveiled in Topeka, Kansas in January 2009. It then traveled to Colorado for additional testing and was sent to California in 2010. It was tested in the Los Angeles rail yards in Commerce and Hobart through 2010 and 2011.
Use of hydrogen fuel cells in locomotives can reduce the amount of particulate pollution around rail lines and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases expelled into the atmosphere. Hydrogen fuel cell locomotives can also reduce railroad dependency on fossil fuels. Additionally, fuel cell locomotives can also act as mobile electricity sources, for example in disaster recovery scenarios.
Article by David Gibbs, appearing courtesy Green Patent Blog.
Here’s a video that shows where I spent my afternoon: on a tour of the (currently) 2 megawatt solar photovoltaics facility at Fort Hunter Liggett in Central California, now the largest solar array on a military base in the U.S. – and soon to be a microgrid. As I took a tour with some colleagues, work was underway for Phase Two, which will add two more MW, and enough battery (more…)
While all eyes may be rested on the gubernatorial races, there remains incredible solar growth and innovation in states and cities across the US. Local solar is driving the movement, so here are a few recent developments that add new meaning to the phrase “Think Globally, Act Locally.” (more…)
The Walt Disney Co., the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, has announced a dramatic shift in how the company will use and source paper, vowing to minimize the amount of paper it uses overall and eliminate its purchase of irresponsibly harvested timber products.
In an announcement, the multinational media company said it would increase its use of recycled paper and paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and will avoid products coming from what it called “high conservation-value” and “high carbon-value” forests. In addition, executives say they will work with the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and other non-governmental organizations “to identify… regions with poor forest management and high rates of deforestation,” specifically calling attention to Indonesia, where rampant deforestation for pulp and paper products is decimating rainforests.
The policy shift comes two years after RAN launched a campaign against Disney, citing evidence that its publishing arm — which produces 50 million books and 30 million magazines annually — was using hardwood pulp likely sourced in Indonesia rainforests.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.
FedEx Express currently operates 130 all-electric vehicles (EV’s) worldwide, making the company an ideal collaborator for social innovation research and development initiative with Nissan. These two companies have been working together since 2011 to test the e-NV200 in real world operations to help shape development of the 100% electric compact (more…)
We’re so politically polarized about energy, it’s news when we’re not.
Exceptions exist, of course, but generally one side identifies with fossil fuels, the other with renewable energy. And energy efficiency seems to be the lucky orphan left out of the pick.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient (more…)
The pace of wind energy development on public lands is picking up. Interior Ken Salazar announced this week that the Department has reached its goal of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of renewable power on public lands with the approval of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project site as suitable for wind energy development. The Project is (more…)