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Why not go with the grain?

Build out a new generation of hybrid streetcars/ Ultra Light Rail running on biomethane, and stranded gas maybe?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Oct 11th, 2009 at 06:33:29 PM EST
But going with the grain would suggest biomethane for heat and renewable electric power for traction.

Plus, it not only has superior energy efficiency, but its mature, existing technology - it can be rolled out in parallel nationwide. That is part of how it is compatible with the heavily Federalist policy approach.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 11th, 2009 at 07:43:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
But going with the grain would suggest biomethane for heat and renewable electric power for traction.

True, and renewables are the aim, but I'm interested in the transition, and making best use of the carbon we have.

Now, I'm not an engineer, but I am interested in the "well to wheel" calculation, where we see gas being burnt (with no CHP) and then distributed to run ultra heavy trams around, which need expensive and unsightly cabling and (eg the horrors in Edinburgh at the moment), massively expensive and time consuming work to implement. I have no idea how that stacks up, particularly in climates where ther's no use for the heat.

I must say I'm attracted by the idea of a generation of ULR powered by (say) CNG to begin with, and biomethane to follow. They can run on both conventional tracks and tram tracks as well, so it's not a case of either/or.

It just seems - to a layman - a pretty painless way to roll out a simple but effective transitional solution.

For third world countries, particularly energy wasters like Iran and  Nigeria, it's literally a no-brainer, I would have thought?

And it's not particularly high tech, either, so developing countries could probably build them, with a bit of licensed design IP and quality control.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Oct 12th, 2009 at 04:05:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... cost question. In Western economies, if it makes sense to lay the tracks, it generally makes financial sense to put up the trolley wire as well, though because of controversy over trolley wire in some locations, there is also research into contact-free electric supply via induction.

Regular city buses are a more natural target for a fuel such a biomethane, since they do not require the establishment of a filling station network, but can be fueled from a central depot, and their role is to complement the dedicated transport corridor network.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 12th, 2009 at 12:14:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I guess a fleet of ULR vehicles would use a depot too, and a ULR vehicle is more energy efficient than the same vehicle on tyres because of rolling resistance.

But I guess my key question is does it make more 'energy sense' to:

(a)burn carbon, generating heat and electricity (when maybe there is no use for heat) to produce electricity and distribute it to trams; or

(b)power a ULR tram look-alike directly with carbon?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Oct 12th, 2009 at 12:37:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would it be necessary to burn carbon to generate heat and electricity, except as a firming supply backing volatile renewable sources of electricity?

The benefit of running the tram on electricity is that opportunity to pool multiple renewable sources of electricity.

However, even in the burn carbon for electricity case, if there is an opportunity to build from the ground up for energy efficiency, it will normally make more energy sense to generate electricity and distribute it to the trams than to burn it on the tram and convert it to electricity there. It will be the same electric motors in any event, since they are more energy efficient than internal combustion engines, and the fixed central generator can be made more efficient, since for one, not being part of the load carried by the tram  it does not have a weight/efficiency trade-off, and for two, being at a fixed site makes it far simpler to re-use the exhaust heat.

If its a cold weather climate, the heat can be used for district heating, and if its a tropical country, the exhaust heat can be used as an input into a production process that consumes heat, such as production of ethanol.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 12th, 2009 at 01:15:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cheers, Bruce.

I'm looking  at carbon only in terms of making best use of it while we've got it......

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Oct 12th, 2009 at 01:18:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Making the best use of it while we got it is to stop burning it and preserve it for use as a chemical feedstock.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 12th, 2009 at 01:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... if there is an area that can support a common carrier tram service on a fixed transport corridor at high enough frequency to justify the tracks, its inefficient to burn biomethane rather than stringing trolley wires ... it should be used for a service like a regional stopping train on a rail corridor that has few passenger and freight services per day, so cannot justify the capital cost of electrification, or for taxis to provide flexible last mile point-to-point transport.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 12th, 2009 at 01:26:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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