October 16, 2015


Motive Power for Railroads


1:40 p.m. – 3:00 p.m


1605 Tilia Street, Room 1103, West Village


Railroads are a main mode of transportation for passenger and cargo ranging from subway systems to long-distance freight routes. In Europe, the emphasis of railroads is transporting passengers while in the U.S., the focus is on the movement of freight and rail has almost a 50% modal share, measured in ton-miles. The majority of trains use electricity for propulsion, either provided by an on-board diesel-generator-set or supplied through wayside electrification infrastructure. Both methods face difficulties: wayside electrification is costly and trains can only travel on electrified routes while diesel trains rely on a single energy source and fuel combustion results in emissions at the point-of-use. Recently, several alternatives for rail vehicle propulsion are being explored; among them are natural gas, hydrogen, hybrid drive systems, and discontinuous electrification schemes. For a fair comparison of different options regarding energy efficiency and emission, the whole supply chain of energy has to be considered, while partial links in the chain may be sufficient from a business case or regulation viewpoint, as part of the supply chain could be outside the boundary of the railroad organisation, for example the production of diesel fuel.

In the seminar, a brief background to railroad transportation will be provided, followed by an overview of current propulsion technologies before alternative drive systems and their evaluation from an energy and emission perspective are discussed. A focus will be on hybrid drive system architectures and hydrogen fuel cell systems.

Biographical Sketch

Andreas Hoffrichter studied Transport Management at Aston University and completed the course with a first class honours degree. In his doctoral research at the University of Birmingham, UK, he investigated the suitability of hydrogen as an energy carrier for railway traction, which led to the development of a narrow-gauge prototype hydrogen-hybrid locomotive – the first practical hydrogen-powered railway vehicle in the UK. He won the prize for the best PhD in the School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2013. Andreas also holds a Master degree in Railway Systems Engineering and Integration. After completion of the PhD, he was employed as a Teaching and Research Fellow in the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education where he taught on the railway master courses and developed new modules, including a weeklong railway traction block for a new master programme. In December 2014, Andreas joined Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at The University of Warwick as a Research Fellow in Railway Vehicles, where he leads the research activity related to drive systems for railway vehicles, including energy storage hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell systems. His research concentrates on traction systems and conceptual drive-system development, including subsequent vehicle performance evaluation. Self-propelled railway vehicles are a focus in the investigations and modelling. Andreas published several journal papers and presented at numerous international conferences.

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