Monday, May 12, 2008

Generating Electricity From Running Train

The other day the station master of Sitarampur Railway Station told me that the railway authority had approved the electrification of the route passing through Sitarampur station. I was sitting on my favourite bench on the platform and was thinking over the matter of this electrification. I knew it would take a long time for materialization of this proposed project. Now the trains were pulled by steam engines here. It is good to avoid stream engine considering pollution and the rapid depletion of coal reserve. Even in the United States
most electricity generated comes from burning coal? In 2006, nearly half i.e. 49% of the country's 4.1 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity used coal as its source of energy. The situation is same with diesel –driven engines. Moreover India can ill-afford to use diesel for all the railway engines. So electricity is the best option if one can generate it. That was the stream of my thoughts that evening. But India is still a poor generator of electricity she needs badly to meet everyday consumption. It came to my mind suddenly over the possibility of getting electricity from a running train itself. We all know that we need some mechanical energy to move the dynamo for generating electrical energy. So we manipulate in every possible way to utilise constantly all the available means to get mechanical energy. But it is also not easily available situation in any country to get access to some automatic mechanical devices without least compromise. You need coal to produce thermal energy, force of moving water to produce hydroelectricity. And there are some other modes also to move a dynamo like nuclear energy. There can not be an easy way though the wind force and solar energy are being tapped nowadays.

But I thought a novel way of producing electricity simply from a running train while sitting on the platform. For instance if we can manipulate the constant whirling of the wheels of a running train by connecting them with dynamos fitted alongside the wheels –the dynamos would start generating electricity. Initially the engine would have to be driven by electricity from outside overhead electric line. But once the engine gets momentum –it might get electricity from its own running wheels. The driver of the engine might then switch of the connection to overhead source as it is no longer required. The engine itself and all the wheels of the train become a source of mechanical energy for generation of electrical energy free of cost. If the engine is allowed to run without stop it would run perpetually. But the train must stop at stations. So once stopped the engine would require again to get connected to outside source of electricity for its initial movement till it is enabled to generate electricity from the running wheels. But it would reduce the consumption of outside electricity. Moreover –we may charge a battery inside the engine so that the battery may be used to generate initial motion after stops at stations.

One may ask how much electricity can be generated in this way to run a high speed train. Obviously there might be some loss of energy in this process which may affect the engine getting a required momentum. But it all depends of the innovation of technological devices to utilize from the optimum mechanical energy from the running wheels. The modern trains in many countries including Japan run at very high speed. But such trains do not have conventional wheels. For example the modern technology of high speed trains works on magnetic levitation. In that case the device required to be changed in another way.

Finally, the linear motion of a high speed train itself may be used to support the auto-system device for generating electricity.

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