Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

September 18, 2018 by  
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At last, the world’s first hydrogen-powered trains have made their global debut in the northern countryside of Germany . As of Monday, two Coradia iLint locomotives have been transporting passengers back and forth to the towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude, just west of Hamburg. The efficient trains were produced by French transportation engineers at Alstom, the same manufacturers who amazed the world in the early 1980s with the world-record-setting bullet train. While the TGV captured many people’s attention as the fastest locomotive in production, its true feat was providing a solution to the 1973 oil crisis in France by featuring an electric — not gas — fueled transmission. Nearly four decades later, Alstom has come to the rescue again as European cities continue to struggle with pollution. Replacing diesel powered engines that are stagnating Germany’s fight for the green is the first push. Related: New photosynthesis machine is twice as efficient at creating hydrogen fuel Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge inaugurated the pair of novel trains at an unveiling ceremony in Bremervoerde, where the trains will undergo routine hydrogen refueling. The company leader said, “The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production.” The bright blue Coradia iLint trains currently operate on a 62-mile (100-kilometer) course. However, in equal capacity to their gas-gulping counterparts, the hydrogen-powered vehicles can travel the span of 600 miles (1000 kilometers) on one tank of hydrogen. The trains rely on fuel cells that can produce electricity from a combined mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. The models are extremely efficient in the conversion — excess electricity can be siphoned into ion lithium batteries stored on board. The only byproducts emitted by this process are steam and water. Many German states have expressed interest in adopting the models to their own transportation lines. The company announced it will be delivering a set of 14 trains to the Lower Saxony region of the nation by 2021. While the zero-emission alternatives are attractive because of their quieter, eco-friendly nature and ability to run without electrified railways, they are not without a high initial price. Stefan Schrank, Alstom’s project manager, said, “Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run.” It’s a price many countries are willing to pay for cleaner air . France plans to rail its first hydrogen train by 2022, with the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Canada eager to follow suit. + Alstom Via The Guardian Image via René Frampe / Alstom

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Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

This 1970s Airstream is an off-grid oasis for a family of six

September 18, 2018 by  
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Moving from a spacious contemporary home into a tiny home would be daunting for anyone, but Jonathan and Ashley Longnecker made the huge life change for themselves and their four children. In just a few months, the ambitious couple renovated an old 1970s Airstream Sovereign into their dream off-grid home on wheels , or what they call their Tiny Shiny Home . The Longneckers long dreamed of traveling with their children, but it wasn’t until they were presented with an opportunity to renovate an old Airstream that they began to think seriously about living and working on the road. Once they bought the 1972 Airstream Sovereign, the couple took just six months to renovate the iconic body into a sustainable “adventure-mobile.” From the onset of the renovation process, Ashley and Jonathan knew that they had to make their new home as sustainable as possible. The roof is outfitted with solar panels , while the interior boasts a number of eco-friendly features, such as efficient appliances in the kitchen, a composting toilet and a 50-gallon fresh water tank that allows them to live completely off the grid. Related: Couple restores an old Airstream into a chic tiny home on wheels As for the interior, the 220-square foot trailer was designed to be ultra-functional thanks to custom-made flexible furnishings . The four kids have bunk beds that can be folded up to create two couches. The compact kitchen is fully equipped with all of the basics to prepare meals for a large family. The entire family of six fits comfortably in the dinette set, making it easy to enjoy meals together. The benches can be converted into a sleeping area. There is also a small office space for the family, so they can work from their tiny home. The design palette is modern and fresh with all-white walls that contrast nicely with the dark wood cabinets and flooring. An abundance of windows allow  natural light to brighten the interior of the Airstream, but the family often sits under the trailer’s exterior canopy to enjoy the beautiful sunsets and sunrises of wherever they might be. + Tiny Shiny Home Via Dwell Images via Jonathan and Ashley Longnecker

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Estonia will soon offer free public transportation

June 8, 2018 by  
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Estonia started providing free public transportation for local residents in 2013 in the capital city, Tallinn, but now  CityLab has reported that the nation has set its sights even higher: it plans to offer free state-run bus travel around the country starting on July 1. According to HuffPost, this move will be the biggest national free public transportation plan in the entire world. The plan doesn’t mean Estonians won’t ever have to buy bus tickets again, but rather that state-run bus travel in rural municipalities will be free. Citizens will also have to pay for  train travel, but tickets for the state-owned rail network will be less expensive thanks to enhanced subsidies. Tallinn’s free public transit policies — there city residents can ride buses, trains, trolleys, and trams fare-free — will not extend to other cities, and the offer will only be good for Estonians, not tourists. The Estonian government will devote around $15 million in taxpayer money to the bus system. Related: Cities in Germany to offer free public transit in fight against pollution The move could offer democratization of mobility for people in Estonia. Tallinn European Union office head Allan Alaküla told HuffPost that free public transportation enables low-income groups “to look for and take jobs in a wider area than they would be able to access by walking.” Delft University of Technology assistant professor of transport and planning Oded Cats studied Tallinn’s fareless plan in its first year. His study uncovered mixed evidence of free trips helping low-income locals. Those people did become more mobile, but the study didn’t find an indication job opportunities improved. The study uncovered a 14 percent increase in public transit use and a 10 percent drop in car trips , although the average distance traveled in a car went up. The study discovered the increase in public transportation use was mainly due to extra trips from people who were already riding the system or people who walked in the past. Alaküla told HuffPost, “We hope it gives people a reason to use their car less, or not use their car at all on working days. In Tallinn we have taken several measures to reduce car usage along with free public transport — special bus lanes, more bike racks to encourage cycling , and we have also raised on-street parking fees and reduced parking places.” Via CityLab and HuffPost Images via Depositphotos

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TransCanada natural gas pipeline explodes in West Virginia

June 8, 2018 by  
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An explosion rocked a TransCanada pipeline in Moundsville, West Virginia and the surrounding community yesterday. Locals said it felt like a tornado and sounded like a freight train, and they could see flames from around 20 miles away, EcoWatch reported. TransCanada said in a statement they do not yet know the cause of the explosion. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Early alarm this morningOn trebble run on fish creek Posted by Ruby Mason on Thursday, June 7, 2018 A natural gas pipeline exploded in West Virginia’s Marshall County, located right in the midst of the huge Utica and Marcellus shale formations, Reuters said . No employees were at the site when the pipeline ruptured around 4:15 a.m. EST, and the fire was at least a mile away from the closest home, Marshall County director of emergency management Tom Hart told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . BREAKING: More pictures from a viewer of the explosion. Viewers are calling in and telling us it felt like a tornado hit their house when this happened @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/akYwSgED7j — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 Related: The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought The pipeline, called Leach XPress, was placed into service at the start of this year . At that time, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling referred to it as “truly a best-in-class pipeline” and said the company looked forward “to many years to safe, reliable and efficient operation on behalf of our customers.” @MarshallCoWVOEM sent me this picture. This is the site of the pipeline rupture as it was burning off @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/VINnMiq44G — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 TransCanada said after the event, which they referred to as the Nixon Ridge Pipeline Incident, “emergency response procedures were enacted and the segment of impacted pipeline was isolated. The fire was fully extinguished by approximately 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. There were no injuries involved with this incident.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said officials from the U.S. Forestry Service and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection were on the site. This picture sent to me from a viewer in Short Creek, WV. Perspective: this is 20 MILES or more away, over a half hour drive! @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/yAmFJUnKmO — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 Hart told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette other companies were on the scene too — some operate pipelines just a few hundred feet away from the ruptured pipeline. He said some of those companies turned off the flow in their own pipelines, and that natural gas well operators shut down wells close by. This is drone footage from @MarshallCoWVOEM Director Tom Hart says this is at the end of Nixon Ridge near Fish Creek. The explosion left a crater. The DEP estimates 10 acres are affected @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/QXTOsWBvNg — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 The event could impact around 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas service — Reuters reported that one billion cubic feet of gas could power around five million American homes. Via EcoWatch , the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  and Reuters Image via Depositphotos

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TransCanada natural gas pipeline explodes in West Virginia

Moya Power tests sheeting material to harvest wind power from London’s Crossrail

February 14, 2018 by  
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We can harness the power of wind in a field or on the ocean, but what about in drafty train tunnels? 27-year-old Charlotte Slingsby’s startup Moya Power seeks to generate electricity capturing wind in existing infrastructure, Wired reported . The company employs a lightweight sheeting material to harvest low grade wind power. They have a pilot project underway on the London Crossrail . Slingsby pioneered Moya Power as part of an Innovation Design Engineering master’s program at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art (RCA); the description on RCA’s website describes Moya as a building material able to harvest wind energy in a variety of locations, like bridges or building facades. The statement on the project said, “The printed, semi-transparent sheets are light, low cost, versatile, and scalable.” Related: Pavegen unveils world’s first energy-harvesting smart street in London Wired described Moya as lamellae-covered plastic sheets. Moya Power’s website said the energy harvesting material “is designed to scavenge-off low grade wind energy, which is abundantly found against existing infrastructure . This involves vibrations and low speed, turbulent winds generating power 24 hours a day, which can be mounted on otherwise unused surfaces, hidden from public view.” One of those areas is the London Crossrail . The Moya material has been installed in tunnels , where wind from trains causes protrusions on the sheeting to move to generate electricity. According to Wired, the system is able to generate 10 percent of the power per square meter a solar panel can. Slingsby sees her product as one piece of a future mixture of urban power sources. She told Wired, “If we all live in cities that need electricity, we need to look for new, creative ways to generate it. I wanted to create something that works in different situations and that can be flexibly adapted, whether you live in an urban hut or a high-rise .” + Moya Power Via Wired and Royal College of Art Images via Transport for London Flickr and Moya Power/Royal College of Art

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The world’s first 100% solar-powered train launches in Australia

December 18, 2017 by  
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The world’s first 100% solar-powered train is now gliding down tracks in Byron Bay, Australia . The Byron Bay Railroad Company refurbished a three-kilometer, or almost two-mile, stretch of tracks and restored a heritage train, outfitting it with a 6.5 kilowatt (kW) solar array with flexible solar panels . A limited service launched over the weekend, with full service set to commence in January. Byron Bay Railroad Company restored tracks and a bridge between the town of Byron Bay and the Elements of Byron Bay resort to provide affordable public transportation for locals and visitors. 100 seated passengers and other standing passengers can ride the solar train , and there’s room for luggage, bikes, and surfboards. The fare for a one-way trip is $3 for adults, $2 for ages six to 13, and free for children up to age five. Related: Indian Railways launches first train with solar-powered coaches The flexible SunMan solar panels lining the carriage roofs produce energy that is stored a 77 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery system, which can also charge up between trips via a 30 kW solar array at the main station. The battery bank has around the same capacity as a Tesla Model S, according to RenewEconomy , and can make 12 to 15 runs off one charge as it only takes the solar train around four kWh for each leg of the trip. A regenerative braking system “recovers around 25 percent of the spent energy each time the brakes are applied,” according to the Byron Bay Railroad Company website . The train’s lighting, traction power, control circuits, and air compressors are all battery-powered. Byron Bay Railroad Company said they originally intended to offer a diesel train service before switching to solar, but the “accelerated development of technology in this area” made it technically feasible to create the solar train. One of two original diesel engines is still part of the train as a backup and for weight and balance. You can find out more about the train here . + Byron Bay Railroad Company Via TreeHugger and RenewEconomy Images via Byron Bay Railroad Company

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China’s self-driving trackless train hits the streets of Zhuzhou

October 30, 2017 by  
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Back in June, Chinese company CRRC Corporation debuted a self-driving train that runs on virtual tracks – and it just officially hit the streets of Zhuzhou in China ‘s Hunan Province. The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) could ease emissions and traffic for a fraction of the cost of building a subway or streetcar system. The 100 percent electric train can transport as many as 300 passengers in three carriages through cities at speeds of 43 miles per hour. No traditional train tracks are necessary for the ART, which runs on dotted lines painted on streets, aided by sensors. The trackless train has been described as a hybrid between a bus and tram, and it’s 100 percent powered by electricity. Channel NewsAsia reported the ART could help speed up public transportation in Zhuzhou before spreading to other cities in China. The train can reportedly run for over 15 miles after charging for 10 minutes. A few outlets say the ART has lithium titanate batteries and charges via a flash charging facility . The ART is more than 103 feet long, and instead of steel wheels it has rubber tires. A twin-head system allows the train to travel without ever making a U-turn. The trackless train’s lifespan is reportedly around 25 years. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ People’s Daily Online reports that the ART is less expensive than the typical subway, which in China costs between 400 million to 700 million yuan, or around $60.1 million to $105.3 million, per kilometer. Compared against electric streetcars, which run around 150 million to 200 million yuan, or around $22.5 million to $30 million, per kilometer, the ART “is only about one-fifth the investment.” The train will be tested in Zhuzhou before opening to the public in 2018. Via Channel NewsAsia Images via New China TV on Youtube

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Aerospace-inspired wonder could be the UK’s first double-decker high-speed train

October 27, 2017 by  
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Lucky Brits could soon ride on high-speed trains with luxury jet-like interiors. Taking inspiration from aerospace design, Andreas Vogler Studio and the German Aerospace Center dLR designed and developed the AeroLiner 3000 train, the first double-deck high-speed train for the UK. Conceived with plans of implementation, this innovative and ultra-lightweight design would allow for an increase in capacity of 30% on the British railways’ existing infrastructure—no new railways needed. Winner of the Red Dot: Design Concept 2017 , the AeroLiner 3000 train adopts aerospace engineering and design to create an ultra-lightweight design that boasts a greater number of seats, increased efficiency, improved comfort, and even a projected reduction in CO2 emissions . “In aviation, lightweight is top priority,” said the Munich-based Swiss architect Andreas Vogler. “With the AeroLiner3000 we show that lightweight construction can trigger a change in the world of rail vehicles.” Related: France aims to roll out world’s first autonomous high-speed trains within 7 years The RedDot jury commended the AeroLiner 3000 for its elegant and luxurious design that makes use of durable train-graded materials and surfaces. Electronically dimmable windows and glare-free OLED illumination make use of new technologies aimed at passenger comfort. Last year, Andreas Vogler Studio created a nine-meter-long, full-scale demonstrator as a proof of concept and for ergonomic verification at Innotras 2016 in Berlin. + Andreas Vogler Studio Renderings: ©Andreas Vogler Studio

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Indian Railways launches first train with solar-powered coaches

July 17, 2017 by  
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Train travel in India just got a little greener. Last week Indian Railways rolled out their first train outfitted with rooftop solar panels – in the Delhi area notorious for its pollution . The solar panels will completely power fans, lighting, and display systems in the coaches. The government expects the move will save them around 5,547 gallons of diesel every single year. The train, a 1600 HP DEMU, is just the first of several more trains with solar-powered coaches to come. Indian Railways will install solar panels on 24 other trains in the upcoming six months. In the past, a diesel-fueled generator provided electricity for a train’s lighting and fans, but the new solar system includes a smart MPPT inverter so these features can be cleanly powered even during the night. According to Indian Railways, the solar panels will slash carbon dioxide generation by nine metric tons per coach per year. Related: Indian Railways installing rooftop solar panels on 250 trains 16 solar panels generating 300 watts each offer a 4.5 kilowatt peak capacity for each coach. The system can generate around 20 kilowatt-hours of clean power per day. A 120 AH battery system will store excess power generated during peak hours. Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said the railways are committed to conserving the environment and using more clean energy . The government’s press release on the trains pointed to other measures the railways have taken to become more environmentally friendly, such as the use of bio-toilets , biofuels, and wind energy. Jakson Engineers, under the guidance of the Indian Railways Organization for Alternative Fuels (IROAF), developed the new train solar system. Managing director Sundeep Gupta told Business Standard is was no easy feat to attach solar panels to trains that will move at speeds of 80 kilometers per hour, which is around 50 miles per hour. The train has a lifetime of around 25 years. Via Quartz India and Government of India Images via screenshot and Ministry of Railways on Twitter

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France aims to roll out world’s first autonomous high-speed trains within 7 years

June 16, 2017 by  
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High-speed trains in France could soon be driverless, if the country’s national railway operator SNCF has anything to say about it. They aim to test what they call drone trains in 2019, with the hope the TGV trains could start running around four years after that. SNCF President Guillaume Pepy said if the project is successful, they will be the world’s first operator to run a high-speed autonomous train. Here’s how high-speed autonomous trains would work: sensors would equip the high-speed drone train, which currently travel at up to 320 kmh (200 mph), to run smoothly across tracks in France. The technology would help the trains detect obstacles and brake automatically. The train could also be piloted remotely, although a conductor would still be present at least initially in case of emergency. The onboard drivers would also manage opening and closing of doors. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ SNCF said they’re not working on the technology to reduce their staff. They told French publication FranceInfo there will always be a need for a human onboard. SNCF adjoint director Matthieu Chabanel likened the drone trains to autopilot systems aboard an airplane , telling FranceInfo, “On high-speed, we are aiming for automation in the sense of automatic steering as in aircraft. In aircraft, you always have a driver, fortunately, but you have an automatic steering system.” Through the drone trains, SNCF hopes to ramp up the frequency and speed of TGV trips, especially around Paris . They think automated trains could increase the number of trips between the country’s capital and Lyon by 25 percent. FranceInfo reported a team of ten people is devoted to the project, and they are collaborating with research institutions and other rail companies like Alstom. The first prototype tests would transport goods, with passengers possibly hopping aboard around 2023. Via The Verge and FranceInfo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia

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