Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hybrid Choo-choo

Taking us one step closer to that hybrid jet I've been designing on the weekends, GE announced that they are working on a hybrid powered locomotive. "Wow, cool," you might be saying and I am saying the same except it's more like "HOLY SH*T! COOL!" and it's probably for a different reason. First, an interesting fact from their site:

The energy dissipated in braking a 207-ton locomotive during the course of one year is enough to power 160 households for that year.

That fact is probably one of the coolest I've heard in a while (and I live an existence bombarded by facts). First, that is a helluvalotta energy which makes sense because trains, because of their weight, generate a lot of momentum (the product of speed and mass). Now add in deceleration (reducing speed) and you have energy, joules of power. Second, the comparison to 160 households is simply incredible. I'm floored... in a good way.

But here's why I'm so excited:
GE's hybrid locomotive's lead-free rechargeable batteries will be able to provide superior performance by allowing operators to draw an additional 2,000 horsepower when needed.

What a great way to test, research, and develop high-horsepower and high-torque applications for electric motors! Right now, there's not a lot of propulsion methods that will work for a semi-truck or a bulldozer or, well, a train simple because big, heavy things need a big push. It is difficult to get an electric motor to push that mind of weight around which is why you'll find a lot of weight-saving features on hybrids and EVs. GE is going to have a fantastic, constant lab to try new things in the high-load realm.

GE General Electric hybrid locomotive, train
Getting big, thirsty, heavy, dirty diesels off of the road, whether we clean up diesel fuel and engines and replace everything or find a new method, is an important piece of the sustainable transportation puzzle. You better BELIEVE that if these hit tracks, I will replace some/all of my air travel with them.


Anonymous said...

so cool right? according to inhabitat, the first one goes into operation in 2010! start planning that vacay. and apparantly nearly all locomotives in use today are deisel electric hybrids (!) but the storage of the breaking energy is the real innovation. brilliant!


Josh C said...

"nearly all locomotives in use today are deisel electric hybrids" I had no idea... hrmmm, I should have read the Inhabitat article instead of pretending like I found this on my own... hahahah

kat said...

well i like reading your input on things i've read elsewhere.