Locomotives as Emergency Generators

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Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby tech1906 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:45 am

Hi.

I was wondering if anyone out there can tell me how feasible it would be to use a locomotive main alternator or even auxiliary power generator as a source of AC power during a wide spread, extended power grid outage? I was wondering if the output frequency could be adjusted to 60 Hz with the engine at a certain RPM? Would the output voltage be anywhere near a useable 120/240/480 VAC? Or are the frequency and voltage so far out there that this is not possible?
For example, we had a large ice storm a couple winters ago that left many people with no power for two months in some places. Could a locomotive be used to power a few essential things like pumping municipal water (480 V, 3 phase motor)? Tie cabling to the alternator terminals and run them to the device you want to power, etc...assuming you could get the locomotive close enough...

Any ideas on this? I appreciate your input.

Greg
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby Typewriters » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:09 am

According to George Cockle's "Giants of the West," four Union Pacific U50C units were leased to Ford for two months, in 1978, for use as stationary power plants at two different Ford facilities (one here in Ohio and one in Missouri.) Unfortunately he didn't go into detail .. but it's been tried at least once that we know of!

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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:59 am

I've heard of a few examples in Canada as well. I can't find corroboration for one example right now, but apparently CN had an MLW unit used as an emergency generator in one of the eastern provinces by disconnecting the traction motors. Likewise, this page mentions that some of the Cape Breton Development Corporation (DEVCO)'s GP38-2s were equipped with power takeoffs for running mine equipment.
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby RickRackstop » Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:30 am

Typewriters wrote:According to George Cockle's "Giants of the West," four Union Pacific U50C units were leased to Ford for two months, in 1978, for use as stationary power plants at two different Ford facilities (one here in Ohio and one in Missouri.) Unfortunately he didn't go into detail .. but it's been tried at least once that we know of!

-Will Davis

I think that was the great railroad strike of 1978 where coal fired plants were having fuel delivered by trucks. EMD's answer was to put 3 MP45 generator sets in the parking lot of GM's Packard Cable plant in Warren, OH. THere is a rumor that using a locomotive for AC generation is possible but it usually discouraged usually the client needs proper switch gear as in a power substation. In EMD's case the AR10 alternator has 10 poles and would need to rotate at 720 rpm for 60 cycles. The "Synchronous Generator" A20 is 8 poles for 900-rpm, and operates at 4160VAC "Y" connected or 2400 delta connected. The MP45's all have A20's. After the strike and numerous other power failures numerous Detroit Diesel and CAT distributors built their own mobile units with every imaginable voltage and cable connections for rent in these emergencies.
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby tech1906 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:22 pm

Thank you guys for you input on this! So it sounds as though most main alternators, although they could be set to produce 60 Hz AC, produce voltages well above 1000 V, and connecting to a standard power grid device like a large electric motor would require transformers to step the voltage down to a level the motor could use. I was hoping maybe a locomotive alternator would put out a more standard voltage, like 480 etc., but obviously not.

So then standard power line transformers would likely not match the voltage output of the locomotives main alternator. It sounds like it would not be an easy task.

What about the auxiliary alternator? Aren't they designed to produce more standard voltage and frequencies that can be used by normal grid power devices? Aren't auxiliary lighting and similar devices on locomotives, built to use standard AC voltages?

Thanks again.

Greg
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby Jtgshu » Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:39 pm

ive been told that NJTransit has modified a few pax GP40s to be able to provide power for the signal system and fuel pad in Hoboken, NJ.

Im pretty sure that its not using the HEP power from the HEP generator, but rather the AR10. Ive been told that its tested every once in a while, and used occasionally. There is even a stub track in Hoboken that is just for this purpose, just big enough for a loco, with some heavy duty wires and plugs at the enginehouse/fuel pad.

Ive been told there are plugs in Red Bank for the Coast Line signal system, as well as Summit (I believe) for the Morris and Essex Lines signals. im not sure if there is any place for the Main and Bergen/Pascack Valley Lines.
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby MEC407 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:57 pm

mtuandrew wrote:I've heard of a few examples in Canada as well. I can't find corroboration for one example right now, but apparently CN had an MLW unit used as an emergency generator in one of the eastern provinces by disconnecting the traction motors.


Correct. CN deployed three of their M420Ws, although only two were used successfully. Here is a photo of their 3502 on the pavement next to the town hall it was powering, in January of 1998 (the U.S. state of Maine suffered a tremendous amount of damage from that same ice storm, including widespread power outages that lasted for weeks; unfortunately, we Mainers didn't have CN to help us out!):

http://cnlines.ca/CNcyclopedia/loco/mlw/img_3502.jpg

It left some pretty deep grooves in the pavement, apparently. Less than a month later, CN sold it to RailLink.

A bit more info can be found at: http://cnlines.ca/CNcyclopedia/loco/mlw/#CN3502
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby sd80mac » Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:46 am

MRL did the same thing. But I cant remember the exactly detail or reason.

I think it was during electric crisis (few years ago in west), also the rate for electric was so high. that MRL used one engine to power their building(s) or a town.

It end up that neighbors complained about the exhaust fumes and noise from the engine were annoying them. I cant remember exactly but I think MRL contiuned to run it. I couldn't find story in google search.
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby tech1906 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:18 am

Thank you all, very much, for your input! I'm hoping to convince some local Emergency Management folks that arranging ahead of time to use locomotives as emergency power generators, might be a real lifesaver the next time there is a widespread and extended outage. Any further thoughts from anyone?

Greg
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby RickRackstop » Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:01 am

tech1906 wrote:Thank you all, very much, for your input! I'm hoping to convince some local Emergency Management folks that arranging ahead of time to use locomotives as emergency power generators, might be a real lifesaver the next time there is a widespread and extended outage. Any further thoughts from anyone?

Greg
tech1906


You may want to discuss this problem with those in the business of designing and building mobile diesel generator sets. Try the local diesel engine manufacturers representatives for Cummins, CAT, Detroit Diesel, and in locomotive size EMD, GE, Fairbanks Morse and Waukesha. They all have packages already built. The term emergency diesel generator implies that you really not wait for power to come back up or compete for the few rental units. With larger units sometimes arraignments can be made with the power company for their use as "dispatchable power" or peak shaving units they usually give the owner a lower overall utility rate that will pay for the unit in a relatively short time. Anyway they probably done this many times already.
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby litz » Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:21 pm

It would not surprise me in the least to find out that today's emergency preparedness market is moving away from using actual motive power as emergency generators, and instead using gensets built into shipping containers instead ... these can produce almost as much (or as much) power as a locomotive, and are vastly more portable since you can haul them by train to a distribution point, then by truck to a destination, and just leave the trailer parked where needed 'til done.

What the use of locomotives did was prove the feasibility of a large portable powerplant, and now a product has been devised to fill that niche.

An example : http://www.jobsite-generators.com/multi ... 1500c.html

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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby mxdata » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:39 am

F40PH locomotives (the conventional ones, not the stretch jobs with separate HEP) were equipped to produce 480 volt three phase with the main traction alternator when running in "standby" mode. This required extra AC connections on the AR10 traction alternator between the stator windings and the rectifier banks, in addition to the DC normal traction current connections at the rectifiers.

Previous postings hit the target exactly - you can do a stationary generating job much less expensively with a housed generating unit that is cheaper to build and easier to transport.

There was a detailed article on EMD MP36 and MP45 housed generating units in Railroad Model Craftsman magazine in the last month or two.

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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby Super Seis » Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:08 am

Here is an outfit that constructs housed generator plants from retired EMD (and GE) locos.

http://www.are-energy.com/

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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby RickRackstop » Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:04 am

Apparently the LIRR MP15AC's are permanently wired for 480VAC for train head end power. There must be an EMD Maintenance Instruction bulletin on how to do it.
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Re: Locomotives as Emergency Generators

Postby Jtgshu » Fri Sep 18, 2009 12:27 pm

mxdata wrote:F40PH locomotives (the conventional ones, not the stretch jobs with separate HEP) were equipped to produce 480 volt three phase with the main traction alternator when running in "standby" mode. This required extra AC connections on the AR10 traction alternator between the stator windings and the rectifier banks, in addition to the DC normal traction current connections at the rectifiers.

Previous postings hit the target exactly - you can do a stationary generating job much less expensively with a housed generating unit that is cheaper to build and easier to transport.

There was a detailed article on EMD MP36 and MP45 housed generating units in Railroad Model Craftsman magazine in the last month or two.

MX


that is what I believe was done to the certain NJT Geeps that can be used as Generators - not all, but only certain ones I guess got the mod to the AR10
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