Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gensets are already dead

I fist saw gensets on an IHB train.
20140921 0128
I then saw them in the IHB Calumet Yard. They were developed to reduce pollution in yard and industrial switching where an engine has a lot of idle time and/or handles small cuts of cars that don't need all of the locomotive's horsepower.

They cost more, but they were supposed to pay for themselves with reduced fuel costs. But they proved to be a reliability issue because you had three times as many engines to maintain and the engine and generator did not use standard parts.

Also, engineers did not like them because they were slow to get a cut of cars moving. They were supposed to be designed for switching work, but that requires a lot of back-and-forth movement, which requires a lot of stopping and starting. They didn't start as fast as the old road-engines handed down to yard work engines did. Norfolk Southern considers them an experiment that failed. [NS, p16 (This Norfolk Southern Powerpoint presentation also has graphs displaying the EPA's Tier requirements.)] This 2014 presentation indicates that only one Class I railroad is still buying gensets. This photo clearly indicates that BNSF is not buying them.

Andrew Aguilar commented on Tim Hannum's posting
 Was involved in a Accident between the 2014-2015 year and Ran head into a Loaded tanker and Blew up into flames 
(At least that's what everyone told me)
Tim Hannum posted
Toaster Genset
William Brown This one ran over a draw bar at
Alliance, TX punctured the fuel tank and
burned up within 200' of the Hump Tower.
The two "toasted" gensets are not because of a design issue like we have seen with modern John Deere combines, but if they cost more to begin with, then accidents are also more expensive.

Meanwhile, companies have learned how to rebuild the old 4-axle units with a single engine to make them economical and clean. For example EMD710ECO Retrofit Kits and Knoxville Locomotive Works.

It is particularly important to cleanup the locomotives used in yards in urban areas because when the study was finally done, a direct correlation was found between kids having asthma problems and the home's distance from a major railroad yard. (BNSF's Clyde/Cicero Yard was the specific yard used for the study.)

NS, p20
NS is rebuilding their yard engines so that they can be "plugged in" and turned off when not needed. And, of course, they are adding "plug in" stations to their major yards. The electricity powers a heater to keep the engine coolant warm because they don't use antifreeze. And a warm engine can be restarted. The plugin also keeps the batteries charged.

NS is also experimenting with a natural gas mother/slug set where the slug is full of high pressure tanks. They are also working on battery powered locomotives. They are on their second iteration of battery design, but they still need to do more R&D. [NS, p21]

Canadian Pacific's trail of two NRE gensets compared to GP9s indicated the crews liked them, but there were still significant reliability issues. The report mentioned that they did not have automatic start/stop. I wonder if NRE removed that feature to address the complaints that they were slow to get a cut of cars moving. They could at least do what I thought of when I first read about gensets --- install an active/inactive switch. The engineer knows if the locomotive is stopped for a short period of time because it is changing direction or if it is stopped for a long period of time. Leave the engines running for short (active) periods and shut some down for long periods. When the switch is turned from inactive to active, fire up the engines then so that they are ready to load when the throttle is pushed.

Duty cycle charts for line haul vs. switcher locomotives show why it is so effective to reduce emissions during idle and low power ranges for yard engines.

California Air Resources Board, Freight Locomotives, p. 50 (III-6)
California Air Resources Board, Freight Locomotives, p. 51 (III-7)

It takes two locomotives to shove three cars?! I guess so because when they went across the road, they had four of the six gensets running at 2:23 (vv^+^^^). At 4:10 we see the guy running the remote is not strapped to the handrail. So he is violating the "three points of contact" rule. I'd be willing to count his rear resting against the hand rail if he had enough room to lean against the rail. If anything, it looks like the rail wants to shove him off the platform. With just one tank to push, they were using ^v^+vv^ gensets. Using 3 gensets (2100hp) to push one car seems like bad fuel efficiency. For relatively modern locomotives, one of the engines is smoking real bad.

A video of v^^+^vv pulling 12 cars. So UP is still using them in California. (They were invented by NRE as a solution to meeting California's pollution requirements.)

A video of 1) ^vv+vvv+vv^ pulling two cars (street running), 2) vv^(barely)+vvv+^^v pulling 10 cars, and 3) ^v^+vvv running light.

A video of gensets switching tank cars of corn syrup for a Coca Cola plant. A reminder that there are 140 calories in every 12-ounce can. This video is hauling ADM tankers instead of Corn Products to the Coca Cola plant.

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