Catenary-Free LRT!

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The following item was sent to the Light Rail Committee and maybe of interest to those promoting modern LRT for the ‘Valley’. One of the main complaints against light-rail is that it collects electricity from an overhead wire using span wires connected to lamp posts (Vancouver’s trolleybuses) or from a Catenary. The most common method is by an overhead span or Catenary, which some people deem unsightly. Other methods used by trams are using a ‘third rail’ as used by SkyTrain and light-rail vehicles in tunnels or the plough, where electrical contact is made using a ‘plough’ that runs in a slot along the road, with the electrical wire or pick-up being underground.

The third rail can only be used on segregated sections of rights-of-ways and the plough, because of its expense, only in sensitive areas in city centres.

Bombardier is now marketing a safe third rail system for light-rail/tram systems that can be used in complete safety on nonsegregated rights-of-ways, including city streets.

Bombardier Presents First Catenary-Free and Contactless Operating Tram

BERLIN, GERMANY – Bombardier Transportation today introduced the first completely contactless and catenary-free operating tram. The BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE catenary-free operation was presented to journalists on the test track at Bombardier’s Bautzen site in Germany.

“The PRIMOVE technology is a unique system that provides complete catenary-free operation of trams over distances of varying lengths and in all surroundings,” said Dr Carsten Struve, Director Advanced Technology Development Bombardier Transportation at the system’s presentation. “The catenary-free operation offers an entirely new prospect, particularly for trams operating in historic city centres where impressive cityscapes can now exist unencumbered by visual pollution from overhead lines. Combined with the new BOMBARDIER MITRAC Energy Saver technology, the PRIMOVE system can also save additional energy.”

For rail operators, the PRIMOVE system offers significant advantages. Among these are the completely invisible power supply, the easy installation and the complete irrelevance of weather conditions. In addition, the contactless and very safe energy transfer system reduces wear on parts, limiting equipment lifecycle costs. Thanks to the PRIMOVE system, infrastructure costs related to tunnel sections can also be reduced significantly. The system does not need ‘third rail’ or high roof systems, resulting in smaller tunnel profiles. The system’s electrical drive operates with lower noise levels and eliminates emissions. The integrated MITRAC Energy Saver results in significant operating cost reductions by recharging energy.

PRIMOVE technology is one of the highlights of the innovative BOMBARDIER ECO4 portfolio of technologies launched by the global rail leader last year. The new portfolio offers energy and cost-efficient solutions for total train performance through ten ready-to-use ECO4 products that are based on the four principles of energy, efficiency, economy and ecology.

The innovative principle of the PRIMOVE system is rooted in the principle of inductive power transfer, a technology used in cleanrooms in the computer chip and automotive industries. With Bombardier’s introduction of PRIMOVE, inductive power transfer comes to rail vehicles for the first time.

How the PRIMOVE technology works

The electric power components of the PRIMOVE technology are hidden under the vehicle and beneath the tracks. The electrical primary and secondary circuits are separated from each other, a principle also used in transformers. Creating a magnet field, the primary circuit is built into the infrastructure. The secondary circuit in the vehicle transforms this energy field into electricity for the tram’s operation. The cable of the primary circuit can be easily integrated in-between the tracks. The vehicle is equipped with pick-up coils underneath the vehicle, which are connected to the tram’s traction system through a cable. In addition, connected segments in the ground ensure a safe operation as they are only fully energised when completely covered by the vehicle. Therefore, the system can also be integrated in pedestrian zones, for example.

Efficiency with MITRAC Energy Saver

An additional benefit of the system is the integration of the MITRAC Energy Saver, which is mounted on the roof of a light rail vehicle: The innovative capacitors of the system store the energy released each time a vehicle brakes and re-use it during acceleration or operation. Applied to light rail vehicles, the system has (during testing in Mannheim since 2003) been proven to save up to 30 per cent of energy, thus reducing emissions as well as costs. The technology can also be used as a performance booster by adding extra power to the vehicle during acceleration. Behind the system is a double layer capacitor technology (also known as “ultracapacitors”), a smartly designed storage device charged with the eletrical energy set free when the brakes are used. The capacitors’ storage cells are charged with energy which is transformed during the breaking process.

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One Response to “Catenary-Free LRT!”

  1. Dinesh Says:

    Contactless transfer of electrical energy from road to vehicle is an interesting concept. The efficiency and power factor could be quite bad, due to poor coupling between the primary (on the road) and Secondary (on the vehicle) windings.
    I wonder, what sort of peak and average power transfer (per train) have been obtained and with what efficiency (a ratio between useful power to traction converter to power delivered from electric sub-station).
    What sort of kWh per train (or tonne) km have been achieved?
    The regenarative braking using ultra-capacitors is ineed innovative application (like Toyota Prius).

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