Engineering students and staff at the University of Birmingham are joyous. The first ever prototype of the hybrid vehicle designed by the students managed to haul 4000 kilograms, 6 times the specified load. The team now expects that the technology will be useful for the future trains on non-electrified routes and hopes that the railway industry will give a serious look to this exciting new technology.
The narrow gauge locomotive features a hybrid design which employes hydrogen and lead-acid batteries used in cars. It's the fuel cell that powers the locomotive by providing power to the permanent magnet electric motor and charges the batteries. The batteries come into action only when the the locomotive is accelerating under the peak power load. Hydrogen is a known source of clean energy and has been tested to offer greater range to the hybrid vehicles. About 5000 liters of Hydrogen is stored in a solid state metal hydride tank at a pressure lower than the rest of the system that operates at about 5 bar. The locomotive uses an advance storage mechanism, similar to the one being used by University's hydrogen powered canal boat, the Ross Barlow. The fuel cell is rated at 1.1kW and the additional four 90 amp-hour lead-acid batteries add 13kW.
During the tests, the locomotive traveled a total distance of 2.7 km with a load of 4000 kgs. The locomotive uses regenerative braking to reuse the braking energy along with air suspensions and a Wi-Fi enabled remote control. The project has been funded by Circles of Influence Innovation and Immediate Impact fund. We've a video of the locomotive in action. Do take a look -
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Source : University Of Birmingham
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