Hydrogen Intermodal Transporation
A Foundation for All Nations to Compete in the Global Economy
All Aboard the Hydrogen Train - Stan Thompson has a better idea . After all, weve all long been promised a helicopter in every driveway and a robot maid in every closet. But experts say Thompsons idea is one futuristic innovation that appears as if it will actually happen: hydrogen - powered commuter trains. This may not sound as sexy as an automated maid or personal flying vehicles, but the implications are profound and far - reaching. The town of Mooresville certainly supports it. Wed love to see a hydrogen - powered commuter train come to Mooresville.". If you want to take a trip from Charlotte to Atlanta, it would take you more time to fly compared to a high - speed train by the time you get to the airport, go through security, rent a car, and drive into the city. But if you have a high - speed train that goes from city center to city center, youd be there much faster. I know this because I do it all the time in Europe. Its very convenient.". Also paying close attention to Thompsons hydrail initiative is Dr Linda Rimer, the US EPA Region IV Liaison to NC and SC Rimer explains that the EPA is chiefly concerned with hydrail in terms of how it might fit into their quality of life initiative called SEQL - Sustainable Environment for the Quality of Life. A hydrail plan in Mooresville could demonstrate the technology that would promote a more rapid advancement towards hydrogen - fueled trains. Ron Tober, CEO of the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), says that while the hydrail technology looks promising, CATS is currently focusing on trying to move ahead with the commuter rail project in the North Corridor and have commuter trains in operation in the next three to five years.
Mooresville Hydrail Initiative Now On Track
Mooresville Hydrail Initiative Now On Track
The likelihood that sometime between 2010 and 2015 CATS' Charlotte-to-Mooresville North Corridor line may see the world's very first hydrogen fuel cell powered passenger rail conveyance increased significantly in January, per Bill Thunberg - Economic Development VP at the Mooresville Chamber of Commerce.
A basic project design consensus has been reached among the Town of Mooresville, the Mooresville/South Iredell Chamber of Commerce, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), and GIEES, the Global Institute for Energy and Environmental Systems at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The emerging consensus is that the proposed Charlotte-Mooresville North Corridor commuter rail service, now being planned, could serve as a test-bed for deployment of the world's first commuter rail application of hydrail technology, provided on-going development of the technology confirms its superior safety and operating characteristics.
As the technology develops, a technology vendor for the rolling equipment will be recruited. Particular attention will be paid to Vehicle Projects LLC, which has said it will consider demonstrating on the CATS North Line the fuel cell rail technology it is independently developing.
UNC Charlotte/GIEES, with input from CATS, Mooresville and academics in other universities, will lead a complementary research program addressing civil engineering, fueling infrastructure, regulatory implications and economics.
In 2002, Vehicle Projects LLC of Denver, Colorado, designed, built and delivered the world's first hydrogen fuel cell locomotive, a compact mining unit. They now lead an international team that's building the world's second hydrail locomotive--a 109-ton, 1.2 million watt diesel-to-hydrail locomotive conversion for the United States Army.
The two-fold purpose of the Army Project is to develop and prove the concept of hydrogen fuel cell rail traction on a large scale and to help military bases in air quality non-attainment areas reduce air polluting engine emissions. Instead of global warming carbon dioxide and carbon particulates, hydrail locomotives exhaust only clean moisture.
The Charlotte-Mooresville project is known as the "Mooresville hydrail initiative." "Hydrail" is a generic term of art describing the new technology: electric rail propulsion powered by onboard hydrogen fuel cells. "Hydrail" is a universal term and is not specific to the Mooresville project.
Late in 2002, the Mooresville/South Iredell Chamber's Transportation Committee began seriously exploring an idea that had come up earlier in a Charlotte Chamber Transportation Committee meeting. Concerned with the threatened loss of $6 billion in transportation funding due to air quality non-attainment, Stan Thompson and Jim Bowman of the Mooresville Chamber began exploring the feasibility of fuel cells for eventual cleaner rail propulsion on the North Line.
Early inquiries indicated that there were several advantages and no apparent insurmountable technical barriers. Technical research papers provided by UNC Charlotte Dean of Engineering, Dr. Robert Johnson, showed that scholars around the country had been analyzing and advocating hydrail for some time. Bill MiIlar, President of APTA, the American Passenger Transportation Association, wrote a paper on hydrail for the US DOT as early as 1978.
Alistair Miller, a Canadian scientist writing on hydrogen for transportation in 1999, concluded that trains surpass all other forms of transportation in suitability for using hydrogen as a fuel. Simplicity of fuel supply and tolerance of larger fuel volumes, involvement of only a small professional workforce, a comfortable separation of the unfamiliar fuel from the public, and a high proportion of the time in actual operation all favor railroads.
In January, 2003, when President Bush announced his hydrogen economy policy, Mooresville responded by sending the US Department of Energy a short paper describing their hydrail concept. Soon they received a very encouraging reply from the DOE's Atlanta Regional Office.
During the spring and summer Mooresville explored the concept with scholars, regulators, legislators and rail industry experts around the country with generally encouraging results. Then, in August of 2003, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (The R&D arm of the US Department of Transportation) introduced the Mooresville Chamber's Transportation Chairman, Stan Thompson, to Dr. Arnold Miller, President of Vehicle Projects LLC, who had just announced their Army Locomotive Project.
Vehicle Projects LLC invited Thompson to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to present Mooresville's hydrail initiative to the Army Locomotive team at their August planning meeting at the Volpe Center. Vehicle Projects LLC believes commuter rail may be one of the earliest practical applications for commercializing hydrail technology.
Thompson told the Army Locomotive design team that CATS' North Corridor (now Norfolk Southern's "O" Line) has nearly level grades and ready sources of hydrogen for fueling nearby: renewable hydro-electric power from Cowan's Ford Dam and emissions-free nuclear power from Duke Power's McGuire Station. This makes it an nearly ideal demonstration opportunity for clean hydrogen energy and attracted the US DOE's support.
Also in August 2003, with an introduction from Governor Easley's office to UNC Charlotte's Chancellor James Woodward, Mooresville approached Engineering Dean Robert Johnson and Dr. Hilary Inyang, Director of GIEES. As its name suggests, GIEES - the Global Institute for Energy and Environmental Systems - is a natural home for a project like Mooresville hydrail. GIEES was conceived by UNC Charlotte and Duke Energy, which established and endowed it.
Per Dr. Hilary Inyang, "There is no doubt that Washington is focused on the emerging hydrogen economy. GIEES and UNC Charlotte need to be at the forefront as this develops. The hydrail initiative affords us a unique opportunity to put our stake in the ground and show what value we can add."
From 1997 to 2001, Dr. Inyang was the Chair of the Engineering Committee of the Science Advisory Board of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) in Washington DC and is presently engaged in several global research and technical activities on energy, infrastructure development and the environment. Dr. Inyang introduced Mooresville to Dr. Linda Rimer, the EPA's liaison and project coordinator for North and South Carolina. Stan Thompson says, "Dr. Rimer is hydrail's 'angel.' Linda has done far more to encourage us and link us to environmental and other agencies than anyone."
"Since improving Centralina's air quality and averting non-attainment sanctions was the prime motivator for hydrail's development," says Thompson, "Dr. Rimer's support is doubly valuable."
The Mooresville Chamber and GIEES began planning a collaboration on hydrail in August, 2003. The collaboration is part of a strategic partnership between Mooresville and UNC Charlotte so that a nearby commercialization community is on hand to bring the fruits of research into production smoothly and rapidly.
UNC Charlotte is pursuing two early research initiatives to complement Vehicle Projects LLC's R&D work and attract hydrail to North Carolina. The first is creation of a Hydrail Technology Working Group to address fueling, regulatory, safety and economics issues. The second will study ways to integrate and deploy a combined fueling infrastructure for hydrail, buses, fleets and eventually personal cars.
"Rather than have these disparate elements of hydrogen transportation overlap, mismatch and replicate work," says Dr. Jy Wu, GIEES Professor of Environmental and Civil Engineering, "we have the time and the opportunity to get it right the first time and produce an integrated, coherent hydrogen infrastructure."
Per Thunberg and Thompson, hydrail is off to a very propitious start in 2004. With the arrival from Amtrak of CATS' new Senior Project Manager for the North Corridor, David Carol, CATS has taken a supportive position on Mooresville's hydrail vision. While no commitment has either been asked of - or offered by - CATS, Ron Tober provided encouragement in a recent letter: "On behalf of CATS, I applaud your vision and leadership in helping to develop this environmentally friendly and innovative locomotive traction system ... we understand its potential application to regional commuter rail service and look forward in future years to working with you to identify opportunities to use the technology on CATS trains..."
For Mooresville, hydrail is part of a bigger picture. "Hydrail is only the first of what we intend to be a long sequence of hydrogen fuel cell projects," said Stan Thompson, Chairman of the Chamber's Hydrogen Economy Advancement Team (HEAT). "
"Mooresville is 'Race City,'" says Thompson. "We're also working to develop the world's first hydrogen powered pace car and our position as the home of NASCAR Tech and the national research and development hub for NASCAR creates natural synergies with the emerging hydrogen economy that we're anxious to develop. But hydrail is our flagship project."
While the agreements forming the Mooresville hydrail initiative are still informal, Thompson is confident now that it will come to fruition. "We've got the ideal rail line; we thought of it first; and so far no other area has really pursued it, though Denver, Colorado, has an eye on it. To be first, we'll have to keep hustling...we can't rest on our laurels."
Per Thompson, January has repaid a year of networking and hard work. N.C.'s Senator Elizabeth Dole, who was Secretary of Transportation under George Bush Senior, wrote President George W. Bush to commend hydrail and explain its intended role in advancing the national hydrogen economy policy.
At the invitation of Dr. Nejat Veziroglou, one of the originators of the "hydrogen economy" concept in the early 1980s, Thompson submitted an article, "The Mooresville Hydrail Initiative," which appeared in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol. 29 - Issue 4.
"But Ron Tober's generous letter has been by far the most encouraging development since we began exploring hydrail," said Thompson.
UNC Charlotte Ms. Gina Howard
704 687-4286 firstname.lastname@example.org
Town of Mooresville Mr. Rick McLean, Town Manager
704 662-3186 email@example.com
Mooresville Chamber Mr. Stan Thompson,
704 664-5486 firstname.lastname@example.org
CATS/Charlotte Mr. David J. Carol
704 432-0482 email@example.com
Vehicle Projects LLC Dr. Arnold Miller, President
303 296-4218 firstname.lastname@example.org
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