Looking for benefits - What features and operational benefits will hybrids bring to their owners?
Mikhail Rozhkov: The presence of on-board batteries will save a significant amount of resources on the life cycle of the machine. According to preliminary estimates, TEM5X will reduce operational fuel consumption by 30% compared with diesel locomotives with a large number of axles. When operating a battery-powered electric locomotive EMKA2, this parameter is even higher. The machine is "fueled" with cheap electricity from the railway contact network through its standard current collector and does not require the cost of equipping with diesel fuel and oil. I would like to separately note that the "hearts" of both locomotives, traction batteries, will be built on a single element base, as much as possible unified up to interchangeability. In new models, digital solutions will be systemically integrated: predictive diagnostic systems, computer vision, and remote control.
Igor Seleznev: Many of these technologies are already being implemented in railway transport. But TMX will be the first to integrate these solutions into rolling stock designs systematically. I am sure that there are no such cars in the world yet and new hybrid locomotives are waiting for commercial success.
I want to draw your attention to the following: we use innovative solutions not because it is a trend but because we strive to meet the needs of consumers. For example, predictive analytics allows you to predict possible breakdowns of individual components and assemblies of a locomotive and plan its future maintenance. This significantly reduces the repair component of the life cycle cost, allowing you to switch to the service and repair system according to the locomotive's actual condition. In the future, we are planning to introduce remote control systems, collision avoidance, and unmanned control later on.
- How does it work?
Mikhail Rozhkov: Remote control gives the customer a possibility to control one or more locomotives from anywhere. Imagine that you are playing a computer game: the monitor displays all the information about the route, you set the car into motion, react to the changing environment around you - accelerate, slow down or stop. Then you can set a completely different locomotive into motion. All this without getting up. At the same time, the ability to simultaneously control several machines at once significantly from one point optimizes the time and labor costs during operation. The technological downtime of locomotives reduces: the transition from the cab of one locomotive to another requires only switching on the control panel.
Unmanned control involves a completely autonomous movement of the machine from point A to point B. This will require infrastructure that provides high-level scheduling. A specific set of systems analyzes whether the path is clear and gives a motion-enabling signal. At the same time, the locomotive itself does not drive "blindly": using computer vision and an obstacle recognition system, it observes the operational situation and can stop in case of emergency situations or, on the contrary, continue driving after removing obstacles.
- Creation of hybrids is apparently accompanied with implementation of new technologies in the process of designing machines, isn't it?
Igor Seleznev: Absolutely. Another innovation for TMX will be the creation of digital twins of locomotives under development. This is not just about digital design but also digital modeling of operating conditions. By playing specific scenarios in which the machine will have to work, we will be able to provide for the optimal configuration of its systems. The use of digital counterparts, coupled with predictive analytics elements, gives a significant synergistic effect. By specifying the operating conditions for each consumer, it is possible to configure the locomotive primarily from the point of view of using a hybrid power plant. This will allow for varying power, energy intensity, and, as a result, the cost of power plants. In fact, we are talking about the customization of machine production. Besides, modularity of the design will allow modernization of locomotives throughout the entire service life. If the battery capacity increases significantly in the future, it will be possible to completely abandon the use of a diesel engine without changing the locomotive design but only by replacing one module with another.
The battery can be used in such a way as to ensure the optimal mode of diesel engine operation or even refuse to start it if this is not necessary. It can give energy when the locomotive is parked and started, as well as connect at peak loads, allowing them to smooth out and reduce fuel consumption, especially in transition modes. When it is necessary to reduce emissions drastically, you can only move on the battery. Its working condition will be maintained due to an early charge from the energy of a diesel engine or an external source with the appropriate infrastructure. Plus, of course, recovery - when the energy generated by the engines during braking is returned to the battery.
- When is it planned to launch hybrids in series?
Mikhail Rozhkov: A tripartite agreement on the supply of shunting locomotives for passenger stations at megacities has already been signed. At the end of summer, we will present the TEM5X prototype at PRO/ Dvizhenie.Expo international salon in Shcherbinka. We are also planning to complete certification and mass production of the diesel locomotive in 2021, and the EMKA2 electric locomotive in 2022. http://trainandbrain.ru/technologies/gibridnoyebudushchee