There are two articles
on this page.
Solving the railway capacity problem in five years
without building HS2
1 The engineering problem to be solved
train wheels have a poor grip on steel tracks, compared with rubber tyres on
roads. This severely reduces the ability of trains to brake rapidly during an
example, at 80 miles/hour, the braking distance for an eight carriage passenger
train is sixteen times the braking distance for a car travelling along a
dry road at the same speed.
an increased demand on the national railway network, we can either
Stick with our Victorian era friction braking systems and build more tracks to
increase capacity. - This is the HS2
(b) Employ a powerful frictionless braking system that will
allow more trains to
travel safely along our exiting tracks. This would allow the whole of the UK to
benefit from improved rail communications.
The powerful brakes we need are are already
up and running in Germany. They are called eddy current brakes.
If you want to skip the technical details, scroll
Eddy current brakes –a
Roller-coasters and German
high speed trains have an important feature in common. They both use eddy
current brakes to slow them down.
The principle behind eddy
current braking is that when a metal object, for example a metal bar moves
through a magnetic field, swirling electric currents called eddy currents are
generated inside the bar.
There are two consequences
that you need to know about:
(i) The eddy currents heat the bar so that it can become very hot,
(ii) The bar experiences a backwards force that tries to slow it down.
The engineering appeal of
eddy current brakes is that they convert the kinetic energy of a moving train
into heat without the moving parts coming into physical contact. So there is
no wearing out of the parts due to friction.
As a bonus, ice and wet leaves on the track
do not impair braking.
An eddy current braking
system for trains has two essential ingredients: a set of magnets suspended
from the train to create the magnetic fields and bars or rails along the track
to host the eddy currents.
The German high speed train
system uses the track that the trains run on for eddy current braking.
Unfortunately, the heat generated during braking causes potential buckling
problems. The Germans have got round this by laying new tracks, where the
heating is allowed for.
propose a quicker and cheaper retro-fitting solution to the problem; laying a second set of
rails on the existing sleepers, purely for hosting the eddy currents.
will discover in the second article, laying the additional rails could be an
excellent long term investment for the UK economy because they will become the
foundations for a revolutionary new Transport Internet based on
2 How the improved British braking system will work
In addition to existing
brake systems, each carriage will be fitted with eddy current brakes that
automatically slow the train down if a dead man’s switch is operated. Permanent
magnets that drop down into their operating positions during emergency braking
can be used. But we will describe an electromagnet option because electromagnets
are more powerful and can be used for routine braking as well.
We recommend that the new
“braking rails” are made from iron, so that the track is ready for running
Magtrac trains at a future date.
Figure 1. For
routine braking, the electromagnets can be powered by an onboard generator. But
for maximum protection, backup batteries would be provided. Each magnet would be
serviced by its own battery.
The total braking
contribution made by the eddy current brakes increases with the number of
Sufficient magnets could be
added (for example), so that, with 50% redundancy, the train carrying capacity of the line could be
doubled without compromising braking safety.
(i) The working height of the magnets is fixed relative to the (non-rotating)
axle casing rather than the chassis. This decouples the magnets from vertical
movements of the chassis.
(ii) The magnets are positioned higher than the running rails and there are no
eddy current braking rails in the vicinity of junctions, points or level
(iii) For the proof of concept (i.e. very basic) model, there is good clearance between the magnets and the iron rails.
(iv) Also for this model, the width of the iron rail can be reduced on bends to allow for lateral
movement of the magnets as the wheel flanges butt up against the outer running
(v) The commercial model will include additional anti-fouling measures
that also minimise the air gap between the iron rails and the magnet pole faces
are possible. The commercial model remain secret for
intellectual property protection reasons.
the rails clean
scavenging electromagnets and brushes
ahead of the brakes would keep the iron rails clear.
Eddy current braking is a well developed technology, so R&D time will be
Time will be required to lay the iron rails and build new
rolling stock fitted with eddy current brakes.
The first improved capacity lines could be ready within five years.
4 Summary of comparative costs
The costs of HS2 and an eddy current braking upgrade
Eddy current braking upgrade needs
But this could be introduced in stages, in response to increasing passenger
numbers. Initially, only the engine units would need to be fitted with eddy
rails on existing tracks.
20 - 30
years wait for a
seven English city roll
10 – 15
years wait for a UK national
Confidence in making transport
30 - 50 years into the future.
in making transport network predictions
10 - 30 years into the future.
Acceptance of imported high speed
train technology that is unlikely to lead to export opportunities.
Enthusiasm for new variations on eddy current braking that could lead to
massive British engineering export opportunities.
Acceptance of a bland vision that
road and rail transport are forever different.
Acceptance of a bold vision that
road and rail transport can be integrated to create a world leading
Acceptance that HS2
cannot reduce travel times on commuter routes involving multiple
Recognising that improved braking
can reduce travel times on commuter routes involving multiple
Acceptance of the KPMG report
"warts and all", relating to economic loss for some UK towns and cities.
No comparable needs
Acceptance of a net long
term balance of trade deficit to China, if the Chinese invest in HS2.
There is no such thing as a free Chinese meal.
Compulsory purchase of
green land for industrial use.
embankments and cuttings.
for evicted home owners.
for evicted businesses and the destruction of Camden market.
Acceptance of damage to The
Chilterns and other
rural tourism attractions.
lawyers for fighting most of the above.
taking MPs who recognise that voting for HS2 will gain them some votes,
but probably lose them more.
Cautious MPs who demand an
independent engineering investigation into the improved braking option
before voting on HS2.
Q. Is it
possible to draw off the electric currents generated during normal train
brushes could be used to complete an electrical circuit between
batteries on the moving train and the iron rails. In essence the system would
become a linear version of a Faraday Disk. To improve efficiency, the
electromagnets would be placed in linear arrays. (Several weaker magnets would
replace each powerful magnet.)
To minimise wear, the contact points on the rails could be graphite coated and
the brushes swung into their operating positions when the braking
electromagnets are activated. The system would default to eddy current braking
if the contacts failed.
This current capturing feature is a green
energy bonus, but not an essential for powerful braking.
Additional braking safety measures
Driverless cars are currently being developed to
reduce human error in driving and "smart" CCTV has been used to monitor traffic
flows for many years. These technologies are likely to be adapted by all
railways in the next few years. In fact their reliability will be higher than
for road traffic because with a few exceptions such as level crossings and
scheduled maintenance, all objects and movements on the line will be treated as
potential threats demanding defensive braking.
The two carbon footprint bonuses
(i) Increasing the United Kingdom railway capacity by reducing
the braking distance for trains will take far more drivers off the roads than a
single new route that connects a few English cities.
(ii) Fuel consumed doing work against air resistance increases with the speed of
the train raised to the power of three. This means that increasing average top
speeds from 125 miler per hour to 225 miles per hour increases the carbon
footprint per passenger for a similar sized train by a factor of 5.8. [
5.8 = (225/125)3 ]
The difference in carbon footprints is even greater if we compare HS2 with a 70
mph commuter train. Here the carbon footprint increases by a factor of 33.2.
[ 33.2 = (225/70)3 ]
Which option would Isambard Kingdom
Brunel and our Victorian forefathers have
Building on the investment made in
installing the iron rails
If the electromagnets used for eddy current
braking are replaced with a more advanced design of electromagnet, a whole new
railway traction and braking system becomes possible. We refer to this as
Magtrac offers the following advanced
Braking of a similar standard to eddy
current braking, but with the energy extracted during braking being recaptured
as electricity, instead of being lost as heat.
A powerful contactless traction system that
works efficiently, even when there is ice or wet leaves on the line.
An ability to climb steeper inclines than
(ii) A Transport Internet
The improved network capacity offered by
eddy current braking and Magtrac systems will open up new possibilities for
moving battery powered cars piggyback on trains. This will make battery
powered motoring affordable to more drivers because electric vehicles will be
able to travel long distances, without the expense and weight of massive onboard
One of this article we will explain how Magtrac technology works.
We will also argue that the huge investment required for
HS2 to deliver benefits to a few English cities would be far better spent
creating a Magtrac system serving the whole nation.
Two we explain how Britain could lead the world in creating a Transport
Appendix we reveal how a radically new design of power generator could be used
to produce liquid hydrogen fuel for Magtrac trains. The UK Technology Strategy
Board and EPSRC have jointly awarded us £93,400 to build a prototype generator
according to this design.
One - Magtrac
Interested in the
business argument for Magtrac?
want to skip the technical details, please scroll down to
The Business Argument: Magtrac vs. HS2
A brief history of electromagnetic railway systems
Maglev trains are hover trains. They were invented in Britain in the
1960’s by Professor Eric Laithwaite and are now running in China.
They offer several advantages: Wear on the track is minimal and acceleration, braking and
fuel economy all improve,
but these benefits are outweighed by the high
track building costs.
Maglev is an engineering marvel, but very expensive to build.
Magtrac is simpler and cheaper than Maglev.
We reduce costs by mounting the electromagnets on the trains instead of the
are suspended under the train and interact with soft iron rails mounted on the
existing railway track sleepers.
("Soft" is used in the electrical engineering sense, meaning the rails are easy
to magnetise and demagnetise.)
The braking and acceleration benefits of Maglev are maintained, but Magtrc’s
levitation effect is not sufficient to support the weight of the train.
Q. Why are iron rails required instead of
rails are better at amplifying the strength of the electromagnets but they
rapidly lose their magnetism when the train passes. This eliminates the problem
of steel cans and other ferromagnetic junk sticking to the rails.
1 HOW IT WORKS
We will build the Magtrac principle up in stages
1.1 The key concept
First we consider what happens when an electric current is passed through two
solenoids resting on a soft iron bar.
[A solenoid is a cylindrical coil of wire that acts as a magnet when an electric
current passes through it. The magnetic effect is weak if the interior of the
solenoid is filled with air, but strong if the air is replaced by iron.]
become electromagnets and either mutually attract or repel, depending on their
Figure 4. In
addition to attraction or repulsion between the two solenoids, each solenoid
experiences a repulsive force between itself and the enclosed soft iron bar.
This provides a small levitation effect.
of conservation of energy has to be respected so we do not get "free" energy out
of either of these arrangements. For example in Fig. 3 (a), after the solenoids
have moved together, work has to be done against the magnetic attraction, to
restore the magnets to their original positions.
We can't cheat nature by
switching the magnets off and then moving them apart because when we switch the
magnets back on again work has to be done against the back EMFs as the magnetic
fields are rebuilt.
1.2 A load carrying platform
Figure 5. To move
a lightweight platform along a short length of track, the soft iron bar needs to
be bent into a U shape.
practical traction unit
platform to move along a track of indefinite length:
long chain of U shaped iron bars is required.
(ii) “Half solenoids” that can “jump” from one iron bar to the next are used.
Figure 6. The
platform and supporting half solenoids can move along an indefinite length of
Figure 7. This is
a “half solenoid”, with all of the windings connected in parallel. When an
electric current flows through the windings, a magnetic field similar to a full
solenoid is produced. But its asymmetry results in a net upward force when it
rests on a soft iron bar.
Figure 8. An
alternative, series winding. The neutralising effect of the upper half solenoid
is minimal, because of its greater distance from the soft iron rail.
Figure 9. Further
details of the electromagnetic coupling.
The up thrust is a useful bonus but it cannot be relied upon to support the
weight of the train because it varies with the current passing through the half
The up thrust on the train produces an equal and opposite down thrust on the
iron rails. This improves the friction grip between the rails and underlying
refer to the activated half solenoids as runners and the lengths of soft
iron tracks as stators.
not necessary for the runners to be in close contact with the stators and large
clearances between them are possible to avoid fouling by small items of debris.
(Large clearance gaps require large diameter half solenoids. So the total length
of conducting wires generating the magnetic flux increases, compensating for the
larger air gap.)
clearances will allow wipers to be added, to periodically clean the under
surfaces of the runners.
The conducting wires can be made from superconducting material and the half
solenoids immersed in very cold chambers protected by Dewar insulation.
Skilled engineers will recognise that some technical
details relating to back EMFs, current changes and the fate of kinetic energy
lost during emergency Magtrac braking have been omitted. Nor has the
configuration for regenerative Magtrac braking been revealed.
This secrecy is for intellectual
property protection reasons.
1.4 Explanation: Why the size of the air gap, ice and leaves
on the rails do not affect performance
Icing of the iron rails will be a rare event because Magtrac has a built in
When an iron rail goes through a magnetisation-demagnetisation cycle, a small
amount of heat is generated. (Hysteresis loss.) This will help to melt any ice
or snow in winter.
The only downside of a large air gap is that the half solenoids
are slightly bulkier, heavier and more expensive to build.
Q. How effective will Magtrac braking be?
A. Braking and traction increase with the
total number of turns in all of the half solenoids, the currents passing through
the wires and the cross section area of the iron rails. In principle, Magtrac
braking could be as efficient as the braking on a Formula One racing car. In
reality, a far more modest braking system should meet commercial, safety and
Eddy current braking using permanent magnets
and activated by a dead man's switch will also be installed as as a fail-safe backup.
2 Reducing stray magnetic fields
magnetic fields can attract ferromagnetic debris such as nuts, bolts and nails.
A number of steps can be taken to design this problem out of the system.
2.1 Superconducting shields
For superconducting systems the runners are lodged in cold chambers.
Magnetic flux cannot penetrate a sheet of superconducting material, so by lining
the out facing walls of the cold chambers with superconducting material,
magnetic flux shields can be created.
To prevent the outer faces of the Dewar flasks icing up in winter they can be
fitted with heating elements to keep their temperature just above 0oC.
2.2 Bury the poles of the soft iron magnets
Figure 12. A
vertical cross section at track level.
measures to prevent damage by small items of debris include mounting miniature
"cattle fenders" and scavenging electromagnets ahead of each item of rolling
3 Keeping the runners and flux shields cold
and flux shields can be chilled using liquefied gases or dedicated
refrigerators. A combined system may be best.
New designs of cryocoolers (low temperature refrigerators) created for use with
rolling stock are published on our
superconductors and cryocoolers web page.
4 Powering Magtrac trains
get can carried away with the idea of a free ride. If the electromagnets are
superconducting there are no heat losses but energy still has to be expended
driving the electric currents against the back EMFs produced as the train moves.
Electrification using overhead power cables is one option, but burning hydrogen
is preferred because the fuel can be used twice. First in liquid form, as a
coolant; then as a fuel to generate electricity.
the hydrogen fuel efficiently onboard, fuel cells, four stroke engines or
Latent Power Turbines can be used.
Hydrogen fuel safety
The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell SUV runs on liquid hydrogen and is due for
introduction in California in 2014. It has successfully completed legislative
crash tests. California already has nine hydrogen refuelling stations for motor
5 The copper alternative
to superconducting windings
The argument in favour of
superconducting windings is that they eliminate electrical resistance (Joule)
heating losses. Copper is not a
superconductor at liquid hydrogen temperatures but its resistivity is les than
5% of its value at UK average temperatures. If copper is used for the windings
there will still be some Joule heating losses at low temperatures but the
thermal energy can be used for warming the hydrogen prior to its use as a fuel.
Copper is easy to handle when manufacturing the half solenoids and has the
safety bonus that it can still be used for effective braking, even if the
hydrogen cooling system fails.
"Belt and braces" braking systems
Friction brakes would still be used as a backup and to prevent stationary trains
rolling down hills.
Each carriage would have wheel axles coupled to motor/generators, to provide
part of the regenerative braking during normal journeys. This energy could be stored in
Each carriage would also be fitted with its own Magtrac electromagnets. In
the event of the principle Magtrac power supply failing, power from the
batteries would be used as a backup.
approaches to potential accident spots such as railway crossings, active
Magtrac rails can be installed. These would include externally powered solenoids
that converted attraction into repulsion. This would allow remote braking by an external
operator or an intelligent CCTV system.
Figure 13. Active
Magtrac rails include current carrying solenoids that can be switched on
remotely. These instantly convert traction power into braking power.
Braking solenoid off: Axle casing mounted N
attracts second 1/2solenoid axle casing mounted
S. Traction power is generated.
Braking solenoid on: Axle casing mounted N
repelled by Magtrac rail mounted N.
Braking power is generated.
track based system detects that the trains half solenoid currents have been
changed to initiate braking, the track solenoid current can be switched off.
The UK mainline Health
and Safety report for 2012 records four pedestrian and five car deaths on level
Protection for maintenance staff Portable half solenoid versions of the the
remote braking system could be installed on lengths of track where maintainable
work is being carried out while the track is still in use.
There would be no Magtrac iron rail in close proximity to points. If
necessary, the axle coupled motors would be used to shift stationary trains away
from these sections.
Noise reduction bonus
The elimination of friction as the primary source of braking, combined with the
reduced wheel on track loading, thanks to the Magtrac up-thrust, will
significantly reduce train noise.
Magtrac eliminates the squealing of friction brakes and the vibrations caused by
uneven wear on the steel tyres resulting from friction braking.
Dissipation of kinetic energy during braking
Under normal braking conditions, the kinetic energy lost as the train slows down
would be used to generate electricity and then stored in batteries,
super-capacitors or flywheels. During
emergency braking, the electricity could be used to boil water.
The Business Argument: Magtrac vs. HS2
9.1 Time saving
Magtrac will only shave a couple of minutes off journeys between two successive
stations. But for commuter journeys involving several intermediate stations, the
time savings will be significant.
HS2 does not offer any comparable benefit for commuter travellers.
Outline timetable for
"quick fix" using Magtrac rails for eddy current braking
Eddy current braking is a well developed technology, so R&D time would be
minimal. Time would be required to lay the Magtrac iron rails and build new
rolling stock fitted with eddy current brakes.
The first improved capacity lines could be ready within five years.
full Magtrac system
industrial research lab completes the basic proof of concept experiments as
illustrated in Figure 4 above. The experiments are repeated using half
A copper wire based Magtrac locomotive unit is running on a short length of
narrow gauge rail.
Preliminary estimates relating to the design and costs of the iron rails are
A hydrogen cooled and fuelled system is operating and the
locomotive unit is running for long periods on a closed loop of narrow gauge track.
Iron rail laying and other costs are firmed up.
A demonstration full scale Magtrac public service is in operation.
Perhaps Manchester to Liverpool....?
London to Birmingham line upgraded.
Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds lines upgraded. Followed shortly afterwards
by upgrades to extensions to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
All major UK and Northern Ireland rail routes upgraded to increase their
passenger carrying capacity. The Republic of Ireland adopts Magtrac, building
stronger trade relations across Ireland.
This timetable is flexible
The rail routes that
are currently experiencing the greatest capacity problems can be upgraded first.
"According to Network Rail figures produced two years ago long distance trains
coming into Euston are only 60% full during the morning peak. This contrasts
with Paddington, where trains are 99% full and Waterloo, where the figure is
91%." (Daily Telegraph 10 September 2013.)
9.4 More people and
businesses will benefit
Figure 14. HS2 is scheduled to bring a very lopsided prosperity to a few
English cities by 2032.
But, the nation as a whole will be paying taxes to fund
Figure 15. Magtrac is a far cheaper alternative per mile that will help
to stimulate the whole UK economy.
9.5 The manufacturing & export bonus
HS2 is an engineering dead end because we will be copying high speed systems
developed abroad. In contrast, Britain will be the world leader in developing
Magtrac. This will generate massive engineering export opportunities for the UK.
Attracting young people into engineering
The Japanese bullet train was running two generations ago, so HS2 is "ancient"
engineering in the eyes of youth.
In contrast, Magtrac is new and British.
The development of Magtrac
falls into a series of short visually interesting steps. The R&D project could
have its own website with videos of test runs being posted on U-Tube. Young
British engineers [hopefully having a representative gender and ethnic mix]
would be used as the media face for the project.
An engineering science
teacher should form part of the team. They would pose engineering problems and
suggest student projects linked to the Magtrac development. Links to relevant
project equipment suppliers would be provided.
PART TWO –
A transport internet for the
Motorists will not be cajoled into giving up their cars in order to save the
planet. Battery powered vehicles may be part of the solution, but battery
capacity limits the distances that can be covered on a single charge. Hopefully,
the range problem will be solved within a decade. If not, a
Transport Internet could be the answer.
Transport Internet system, trains would be used for moving vehicles over long
distances, with vehicle power being used for short journeys.
three stage development plan
Magtrac railway routes that are running under
capacity could be used for carrying vehicles.
(The whole of the
network is likely to have spare capacity at night.)
To speed up loading and
“Intelligent” front wheel trolleys would manoeuvre vehicles on and off the
Second generation electric vehicles would have built-in automatic manoeuvring
systems, to eliminate the need for trolleys.
This will only be required if there is a significant increase in people and
An additional capacity line
would be built between two major cities about 100 miles (160 km) apart, e.g., in
the United Kingdom; between Birmingham and Manchester.
Magtrac trains will be able to climb far steeper gradients than existing
trains, allowing the
new train line to be
routed over existing motorways, climbing higher to clear bridges and other civil
engineering features that straddle our motorways.
[For a solution to the high wind problems on exposed platforms, have a look at
how we suggest they can be solved for a
THREE If the
overhead demonstration line takes sufficient road traffic off the motorway, lanes
could be removed from existing motorways and converted to Magtrac. The new
routes would be used by freight and foot passenger trains, further reducing
the pressure on motorways.
If required, Stages Two and
Three could add 2,000 miles of extra track to the UK rail network without
building on large tracts of extra land.
Benefits of a Transport Internet
Motorists would be freed up during the train journey to do remote office work,
relax or entertain the kids. Meanwhile, car batteries would be recharged to increase
road travel range.
A trainload of say 30 vehicles would offer less air resistance and consume far
less fuel than the 30 vehicles travelling at the same speed individually.
existing internet has brought down the cost of telecommunications by using
routing software to make the best use of international communications networks
same thinking can be applied to transport systems.
following example suggests how a battery powered car could use the Transport
Internet to travel from Crieff in Scotland to Swansea in Wales
Figure 16. A
motorist using the Transport Internet to travel from say Crieff in Scotland to
Swansea in Wales might have the choice of two embarkation stations, Perth or
Dunblane and several routes through England. The routing software would suggest
fastest and lowest cost options. The computer analysis would be utilitarian;
offering the fastest/cheapest services to the greatest number of travellers.
Freight Containers would make transitions between trains on battery powered
of domestic and European freight could be shipped overnight via the Transport
Internet. Drivers would only be required for short distances along roads at the
beginning and ends of journeys.
Freight trains could be fitted with more powerful half solenoids, allowing them
to have similar acceleration and braking performance to passenger trains.
The tyres and suspension units on the pallets would help to reduce ground
vibrations when passing through populated areas.
Our basic SALi suspension unit that
is currently being investigated by a PhD student at Cardiff University would be
ideal for this purpose.
freight costs will bring down the retail cost of food and consumer goods.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel -
The inspiration behind Magtrac
In the early nineteen nineties there was a need for
new refrigeration pump designs that were ozone layer friendly and could be
used for cooling the recently discovered “high temperature” superconductors.
In 1993 and 1995 Bill Courtney filed patent
applications describing displacement pumps
incorporating solenoids moving over soft iron runners. (GB
2273133 and GB2306580). These were intended to form the basis of
a new class of Stirling cryocoolers.
Transferring the technology
Bill had been intrigued by Isambard Kingdom Brunel's atmospheric railway since
So he tried to figure out a
way of using his new pumps as the basis for a modern atmospheric railway. Then the
penny dropped: It was possible to eliminate the air leakage problems, by using
the pump motor to drive the train directly, instead of pumping air. With
Magtrac, the iron rails replace Brunel's pneumatic pipe.
Figure 6 above is based on his
patented pump designs.
British innovation inertia
The solenoid and iron runner designs were exhibited at
four invention fairs in the nineteen nineties. In those years
engineering was seen as an outdated wealth generator and there was no
During his years as a research
fellow at Manchester University, working on his transport inventions,
Bill asked for support from fellow engineers in bidding for funds to develop
his pump, refrigerator and Magtrac designs. But they were reluctant
to step outside their comfort zones by exploring radically new engineering
ideas. There was also some resentment that a mere "Mr" Courtney was
offering more engineering solutions than University "Doctor's" of
Engineering. Later, he became alienated from his colleagues because he
refused to keep quiet when he discovered research fraud.
2003, all hope of developing his inventions at Manchester University had been crushed by
mischief and academic jealousy.
opportunity to take a ten year lead in a new transport era has been
are squabbling about a fifty year old high speed train technology developed in
Be wary of blaming the
politicians; they have to trust the scientists and engineers
To be fair to successive UK governments, they have been bolder than the engineers, awarding Bill and his Manchester University
partner a total of £300,000 to develop his road transport related inventions.
For example CrashSALi.
Power generators: Lancaster University received £80,000 to test his
radical power generator concepts.
(In the wake of Bill's refusal to collude in hiding research fraud, he wad
branded as a "trouble-maker" and
Manchester University turned the power generator project
Following a successful outcome at Lancaster University, he has
recently received an additional £93,400 to build a demonstration generator. (Appendix 1 below.)
is all highly speculative stuff, but it highlights some of the ways in which
Britain could regain its position as a world leader in engineering.
A1 - Low cost production of hydrogen
Hydrogen can be manufactured
by using electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. We envisage Latent
Power Turbines being used to generate the required electricity.
These turbines have the capacity to extract heat from mild atmospheric air at 10oC
or warmer and convert it into electricity. No toxic chemicals or high gas
pressures are involved.
We provide a detailed description of LP Turbines on our
LP Turbine theory page.
Here is a sketch of the
demonstration LP Turbine that we planning to build at Capenhurst during the
coming months. The diagram explains how heat is extracted from the atmosphere
and converted into electricity.
This is a sketch of the demonstration Latent Power Turbine that we will build during the
next few months.
air will travel through the turbine blades at three times the
speed that it passes through the fan. As a result, the turbine will generate
more electricity than is required to operate the fan. The law of conservation of
energy tells us that the air has to cool, to offset the electricity generated.
The Technology Strategy Board
has invested £93,400 British taxpayer funding to help build the prototype LP
A2 - Low cost
liquefaction of hydrogen fuel
The boiling point of hydrogen
at atmospheric pressure is
. Using current refrigeration techniques, cooling hydrogen to this temperature
requires a significant input of electricity. However, by using LP Turbines for
the liquefaction process, the heat extracted during cooling can be converted
into electricity, to generate additional hydrogen.
Our power generating
liquefaction process is explained in Section 5 on the
LP Turbine theory page. You will need to
read down as far as 5.4 before a reference to hydrogen liquefaction is
A3 - Reducing
the cost of iron rail manufacturing
Converting iron ore into commercial grade iron or steel is a very energy
intensive process. Most of this energy ends up as low grade heat that is dumped
into the environment.
Latent Power Turbines can be used to cut iron making costs by capturing this
thermal energy and converting it into electricity. Our process is inspired by
pioneering work done by British researchers in the nineteen eighties1.
Hopefully, this time round, British inventiveness will not be wasted.
contact us for details of the new process.
et al, New process for dry granulation and heat recovery from molten blast
furnace slag, Ironmaking and Steelmaking 1985; 12;14-21. Compendex.
Hovercraft/airfoil tilting for high speed bends
To gain hovercraft type lift, downdrafts of air would need to be generated
beneath the carriages and skirts added to ensure that the air only escaped
horizontally when it was close to the ground.
A fan and motor unit would be used to draw in the air. The heat generated by
running the motor and compressing the air would be used to warm up the hydrogen,
in preparation for its use as a fuel.
cushions would be partitioned longitudinally, so that two adjacent cushions run
the length of each carriage. On bends all of the incoming air would be diverted
into the cushion on the outside of the bend. This would reduce the tendency of
trains to roll over when taking a bend at speed.
single carriage trains, the simplest hovercraft system would require the
existing streamlined nose to be replaced by a wedge shaped cavity tapering
inside the body of the train. The upper surface of the wedge would slope
downwards and the lower surface would be horizontal.
Roof mounted airfoils:
Each roof mounted airfoil would be split into two hydraulically adjusted wings.
On bends the wing on the inside of the bend would be tilted to produce a net
down force, with the wing on the outside of the bend being tilted to produce a
net up force.
Combined airfoil and hovercraft action: If the airfoils are close to the
carriage roof, the air deflected under the airfoils can be harnessed by
channelling the down flowing air into the fan assisted air cushions under the
Click to read about other engineering alternatives to HS2.
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