Technical Reports

Assessment of Battery Technology for Rail Propulsion Application

  • 21
  • Aug
  • 2017
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-17/12
KEYWORDS: Battery technologies, hybrid diesel-electric locomotives, lead-acid, lead-carbon, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, bipolar nickel metal hydride, nickel super capacitor, molten sodium metal-halide, lithium-ion
ABSTRACT: The study’s authors conducted a review of various battery chemistries, including information on basic electrochemistry and the critical parameters that drive battery design and sizing. The authors examined the performance, life cycle, and safety of lead-acid, lead-carbon, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, bipolar nickel metal hydride, nickel super capacitor, molten sodium metal-halide, and lithium-ion technologies. The authors worked with Class I railroad operators to identify load profiles for long haul locomotives, and then they modeled the performance of a battery system to determine its ability to absorb locomotive regenerative braking loads, provide supplemental locomotive energy, and comply with required life expectancies. Validated models were used to predict the life of a battery system with specific input parameters and operating environments, and the authors focused on the regenerative braking energy that could be recovered as well as the traction loads provided to the main generator by the battery. The study authors also examined cost, noting the system cost of a battery system with an expected operational life of 7 years or more, including the projected cost for various rechargeable battery technologies. A discussion of the potential safety hazards and recycling information for each type of battery chemistry was also included.
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