Reports to Congress

Assessment of Micro-Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES) Utility in Railroad Applications : A Report to Congress

  • 01
  • Jul
  • 1997
SUBJECT: Evaluation, Best Practices
ABSTRACT: At the direction of the U.S . Congress, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), with technical support from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center), investigated the feasibility of using micro-Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES) technology to provide cost-effective energy regeneration and energy savings capability along the Northeast Corridor (NBC) for both Amtrak and commuter rail operations. The approach has been to review the current technical literature and other background information on SMES concepts, designs, and benefit/cost projections. In addition to this independent review, comments from recognized experts in government, industry and academia were solicited and their input was considered by the FRA and the Volpe Center in assessing micro-SMES technology maturity and suitability to improve or upgrade the efficiency of rail operations along the NEC between Washington and Boston. On the NEC, trains currently use a combination of friction and dynamic braking as the means for slowing down and stopping. In dynamic braking, the traction motors function as generators converting the kinetic energy of the train into electrical energy. This energy is then dissipated as heat in resistor grids. There is an opportunity to recover this energy and to reuse it to reduce the amount of energy purchased for propulsion via redistribution or an energy storage system such as micro-SMES.