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Does steam and diesel have a future?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by 22A, Nov 8, 2021.

  1. Enterprise

    Enterprise Part of the furniture

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    Well I am not in agreement with it if it's interpreted outside the limited context that you (@30854) have just provided. It is an undoubted truism that climate change science is oversimplified on this forum. How could it be otherwise?! But the unsimplified scientific reports, and the criticisms, amendments and analyses etc. are readily available on-line and it's not that difficult to understand most of it for anyone with a science degree and an understanding of statistics. As to "all sides", there are really only two sides: the overwhelming 97%* majority of scientists who accept a mainly anthropogenic cause for the present climate change, and those who do not. The problems are that most of the mass media reporting is from non-scientists who usually have only a limited grasp of what they have been told and that until recently the media idea of balance was to give equal weight to climate scientists and their opponents from predominantly the fossil fuel industries.
    * https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/17/do-scientists-agree-on-climate-change/

    PS. A reminder that this is the most comprehensive climate science site on the web. Every argument is covered! https://www.realclimate.org
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2021
  2. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Whilst I'll take issue with anyone still kidding themselves the volumes of crap we humans sling into the atmpsphere (and our own bodies, let's not forget) has no effect, to be fair planetry sciences are pretty damned involved, if only on the grounds of the multi-disciplinary approach needed.

    The same cannot be said for the only conclusions it's possible to draw from the IPCC report. Those are all too clear. Pity Chinese and Indian delegations to COPOUT seem not have twigged. Were I vaguely given to optimism, it might be possible to infer neither nation was willing to endorse pledges they felt came with too low a change of being realistic, but would be announcing what they're intending by way of reductions.

    If the above turns out (against my own low expectations) to be the case, I'd have rather more faith in the Chinese governement, who's approach to transition is at least producing increasing carbon emission savings in the transport sector than in India, whose policy (as far as I can see) seems more defined by it's absence.

    Technical progress has occurred in steelmaking, which actually takes 95% of carbon emissioms, plus a complete stage out of (what I suppose we still have to call) modern developments of the Bessemer process. Consequently, I suspect raw economics will drive positive change and India will find it increasingly difficult to justify a more expensive product from demonstrably polluting processes. If hard economics do, as seems inevitable, drive choices within the global industry, at that point we already have controls of a sort, with regard to international trade and tariffs.

    The other elephant in the room is the global cement/concrete industry, where CO2 emissions are currently inevitable in both production and usage. This is a significant contributor concerning which I know next to nothing, but it occurs that the only significant reductions achievable lie in carbon capture on the production side ..... I desperately want to proved wrong by someone coming up with some economic means of nullifying outgassing during setting.

    Such pledges as have been made are all well and good, but can anyone seriously see that evangelising drone in Brazil suddenly stopping his slash and burn policies? That, I'll believe when I see it.

    Rather more positively from the COPOUT "fringe" was a comment I've seen made a few times. Back at Kyoto and Paris, the emphasis was nearly all on governments taking action. Fast forward to 2021 and much talk is of industry getting on with the practicalities of decarbonisation and prodding governments globally to get their fingers out. Whilst welcome from a purely environmental perspective, quite what the longer term implications for democratic government might be is rather more opaque.
     
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  3. JJG Koopmans

    JJG Koopmans Member

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    Biocoal was tested some time ago with locomotive 5 of SHM in the Netherlands. Since the product used had half the calorific value of the mined coal the consumption was only doubled. No other problems were mentioned.
    Btw the locomotive had its blast pipe changed to a 4-orifice unit which allowed a larger orifice area, consumption of water/coal 20% decreased after the change.
    Kind regards
    Jos
     
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  4. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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  5. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Most interesting Jos. I'm insufficiently well versed in tbe minutiae of design considerations to know if this is a daft question, so apologies if it is, but were the orifice arrangements you mention specific to the test fuel's characteristics, or something which would've saved an awful lot of coal and water, had the loco in question been so modified years earlier?
    Many thanks for that, Simon, I'll certainly make time to read it and attempt to get my head around the content. Along with other processes involving combustion, obsolete building techniques which send energy bills skywards and bovine flatulence, concerete/cement is a "biggie".
     
  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Hs2 is a really good example of a project that is approaching the low carbon approach to infrastructure building well across a range of issues. Worth going in with an open mind - many countries are looking at HS2 as a example for their own future projects in the approaches taken.

    It is a real shame the project gets such negative press from environmentalists; from my perspective having spent most of my apprenticeship studying the line's development and design, it really is an impressive project.

    Apologies for the brief interlude off topic.
     
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  7. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Not as off topic as this (sorry, folks, promise I'll be quick!): Last night, a couple of clips on a Kiwi rail infrastructure renewal project cropped up. The project to rehabilitate the (very tired) line to Northland (NI) involves replacing many bridges, on which stringent TSRs had been in force for very many years. The technique adopted was pre-casting decking sections and craning them into place, by which means the duration of upgrades hitherto reckoned in years were reduced to mere months.

    On a 3'-6" gauge network with a famously limited loading gauge, the approach to upgrading tunnels for container traffic was equally interesting.

    The reason for this (long overdue) investment was to shift many thousands of heavy goods movements onto rail, rendering notoriously busy roads far safer for motorists. For anyone interested, search YouTube for "KiwiRail".

    A written article appears here: https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/what-we-do/projects/northland-rail-rejuvenation/

    There. Said I'd be quick!
     
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  8. mdewell

    mdewell Well-Known Member Friend

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    :Meh: But is it flamable? And can it be supplied in the appropriate sized lumps?

    Oh, sorry. Wrong thread. :D
     
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  9. JJG Koopmans

    JJG Koopmans Member

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    I have suggested a change since 2006. It took new and younger management that had some vision on the future of steam locomotives to test a more economical front end and only then the biocoal. Now they have changed all appropriate locomotives.
    No 5 was on loan this summer to another heritage railway that was revising a sister locomotive, they reported back that 5 used only half the water and coal they were used to! So simple improvement is quite possible.
    Kind regards
    Jos
     
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  10. Allegheny

    Allegheny Member

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    Does anyone have a view on whether the changing of wording at COP26 from "phasing out" coal to "phasing down" will have any effect on heritage steam?
     
  11. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Yes - there will be minimal impact, as suitable coal supplies will still become harder and harder to obtain as miners focus on the primary commercial demand until it itself runs out of road. I expect that if I live my 3 score years and ten, I will see the end of coal fired steam in the UK.
     
  12. William Fletcher

    William Fletcher New Member

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    However, steam production will continue as long as there is a heat source. I think we may see the end of diesel traction much sooner.
     
  13. JJG Koopmans

    JJG Koopmans Member

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    Steel requires a small carbon content. So as long as steel is made from ore, even in a hydrogen process carbon has to be added.
    As for oil, would the armed forces go all-electric?
    Kind regards
    Jos
     
  14. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    If what I'm seeing lately concerning miniaturised thorium salt reactors is correct, that will most definitely be a resounding yes.
     
  15. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I specifically referred to coal fired steam for a reason. You may well be right about diesels.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    For an entertaining, if mad, bit of time wasting, look up the nuclear powered airplane. The use case was what happened if a surprise attack destroyed your nuclear bomber force on the ground before they get in the air: the solution was to keep a proportion of the force the permanently in the air, for which you needed massive endurance. (*)

    Lots of US research got them to a more or less viable jet engine in which the heat source was a nuclear reactor; they went as far as to fly the reactor in a converted B36 bomber to see how it (and the crew) stood up to the rigours of operation. The Russians tried similar things, with a converted Tu95. The 10 tons of nuclear shielding on the American plane was I guess compensated by the fact you didn't need to carry fuel; long term sterility of the crew was a consideration. Allegedly, the Russians eschewed such niceties and just chose older crew members who had already started families (possibly just rumour)...

    How do you cut out the shielding? Well, if you take out the pilot, you don't need to protect them from radiation. So you naturally progress to "SLAM", the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile. The power source was a nuclear-powered ramjet engine. The idea was the missile could be kept continuously airborne at times of tension as a threat; if required, it flew off to Russia, dropping nuclear weapons on cities along the way and once it had run out of weapons, it then returned to fly over the ruined cities for a bit of noise nuisance with the 150dB sonic boom; finally you could target it to crash in another city, causing further radiation contamination (i.e. "dirty bomb" technique). Which all sounds great, until you consider - what happens if one crashes over your own territory - or that of your allies on the way to the enemy? And, worse - if you launch it, how do you recall it to base if not needed? How do you even conduct flight tests? The unshielded reactor ends up sitting at the end of your runway with no-one able to approach for a few decades ... So that project bit the dust too, 260 million dollars later.

    Ah, those were the days of "our friend the atom" :) (**)

    (*) The eventual solution to that was air-to-air refuelling and "operation chrome dome" in which a fleet of B52s was kept permanently circling the arctic ready to strike, with planes continuously joining the formation as others dropped out to replenish supplies. The US kept that going, non-stop, for the best part of a decade. I wonder how much Jet A1 fuel that used?

    (**) To come up to date: The Russians supposedly have a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Details are necessarily sketchy, but the use case is again range and endurance, coupled with the possibility of using the range to launch a surprise attack from an unexpected direction. If the Russians have such a weapon, it seems reasonable to assume that the US does as well, or at least a research programme in that direction.

    Tom
     
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  17. 3855

    3855 Member

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    i wouldn't be surprised if the price of lump coal ie that suitable for steam locos doubled in the new year
     
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  18. ZBmer

    ZBmer New Member

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    The Bure Valley Railway is conducting two consecutive days' test running using ecoal with a double-length train (20 vehicles). Previous test days were for comparison of different alternative solid fuels; this series of tests is to evaluate performance with the 'winning' coal-substitute.
     
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  19. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Don't need to, old chap .... I grew up with Thunderbirds (looking back, it must've been something like thorium reactors Gerry Anderson had in mind, nearly 60 years ago). That Fireflash was always in trouble. For some reason, the mental image of someone cramming a pocket nuclear reactor where fire used to go amuses. For some reason I've no intention of delving into, a GW Castle came to mind. :)

    More seriously, I'll be keeping an eye on the BVR's tests, plus any other innovative trials. Sounds most interesting.
     
  20. JohnElliott

    JohnElliott New Member

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    Kerosene Castle is still around, and in need of a replacement engine. Maybe now's the time to make it into Thorium Castle...
     

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