Could Tesla freight rail have 1/10 the operating costs of current freight rail?

Discussion in 'Tesla' started by 101101, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. 101101

    101101 Well-Known Member

    Now of course there is rail or tube or hyperloop and boring that is more glamorous than rail and of course Tesla says its truck in convoy will already pressure rail but it may be that regular freigh rail is actually ripe for total disruption.

    Now Rail in the US is said to only account for about 16% of freight and on the the other hand rail claims to be able to transport a ton about 475 miles on about a gallon of diesel. So its like driving a 2 ton car 235 miles on the equivalent of a gallon of gas. So it might not seem like low hanging fruit. But my guess is its ripe for quick and total disruption with one of Tony Seba's famous 10x improvements hitting it. One clue was when Musk said Tesla Trucks in convoy beat rail. This shows what the Tesla treatment can do because under ordinary circumstances rail is about 10x more efficient than road vehicles.

    A very rough analogy might come from comparing the efficiency of a current diesel electric locomotive to a standard ICE car. It is true for reliability and simplicity and tractive power it makes sense to replace a mechanical transmission with electric drive motors as current locomotives do. But it doesn't really gain much efficiency by doing this because it still has combustion diesel generators which are in essence ICE engines even if they run in a more optimal operating band. Its really just an ICE car on rails. But if you were to improve it by replacing its generators with batteries and upgrading all the braking on all the train cars with regenerative brakes that fed the batteries and you improved its aerodynamics and made it out of new lighter, stronger, cheaper materials to more than compensate for any nominal additional weight for batteries at train scale you'd have a model 3 or something about 7x as efficient. But then I think you can go further by selecting 200 car length trains and going double stack height and covering every available inch (horizontal and vertical surfaces) on every cars surface with PV cells themselves covered over by an easy to replace membrane (to protect against graffiti.) This solar sail of sorts might make it unnecessary to charge this train at most latitudes on most days because it would be getting something like 16 megawatts of energy a day and given that this arrangement is already about 7x more efficient it would be like 122 megawatts on a 4 locomotive 200 car length train over 24hrs which would be almost enough to run those locomotives at full power around 40% of the time.

    But just to give an idea, a run of 200 cars at 28hrs or a bit over 800miles trip apparently can run 60,000 in operating costs. There could be 300 day s a year like this. That's about 20 million a year. A Tesla locomotive might be able to eliminate most of that cost on a per year basis. It might be able to pay off the investment in less than 2 years because it many not need actual locomotive and 200 freight cars at 150k a pieces is about 30 million.
    1. Replace Diesel Generators and gas tanks with batteries in every car

    2. Make brakes regenerative by adding motor/generators to each car's axels

    3. Save 30% on weight with Korean Gigasteel (strong as titanium, much thinner, cheap as steal)

    4. Go double stack height but aerodynamic and reversible so every car can be a front or back with extensible slats that slide forward to cover gaps

    5. Cover every inch of surface horizontal and vertical with PV cells/ covered in protective easily replaceable transparent film.

    6. Take advantage of the self propelled self fueling cars that self stack and get rid of the need for actual locomotives

    7. With every axle providing tractive power with the instant power characteristics of batteries acceleration should be much better

    8. Over-all maintenance will be much, much lower
    But there or are some tantalizing clues. In 2009 a US agency paired with a Southern railroad did what looked a lot like an ordinary electro-diesel locomotive. It cost the same as a regular locomotive and it could pull as much as a regular locomotive but ran on nothing but lead acid batteries could run about 24hrs our about 4x what a typical locomotive runs before refueling and it needed only 2hrs recharging time verses the typical locomotive generally has at least 4hrs down time per day.

    Wabatech recently did a so-called tier 4 hybrid battery locomotive product which contains a stack of lithium ion batteries and uses the locomotive alone to access partial regenerative braking and improves on economy and emissions by 15%,

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