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Voith Turbo SteamTrac waste heat recovery system in rail car decreases fuel consumption by 4-12%

Voith Turbo recently reported the test results from a SteamTrac (Steam Traction) waste heat recovery system installed in a rail vehicle of SWEG Verkehrsbetriebe Breisgau Kaiserstuhl, Germany showed a decrease in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 4 to 12%, depending upon the driving profile.

Voith developed SteamTrac to target marine and industrial applications as well as rail vehicles. Steam is generated from exhaust heat via a heat exchanger and fed to a piston expander to produce additional mechanical energy, which is then redirected straight to the driveline.

SteamTrac working principle. Click to enlarge.

Since March, a SteamTrac has been operating in the rail test vehicle of SWEG. The single-car diesel railcar built by Waggon Union Berlin dates back to 1993, and is fitted with two 250-kW diesel-hydraulic drive systems with Voith turbo transmissions.

According to Voith calculations, the SteamTrac, which is connected to one of the two engines, generates an additional input power of 24 kW. Initial measuring trips already came up with an additional power of 19 kW.


Henry Gibson

Readers of this report could now look up the diesel Kitson-Still locomotive. There is also someone who makes a similar device that feeds "steam" power into the shaft of stationary engines.

Voith could make a new version of the locomotive but use turbines as were used and controlled in the British turbine locomotive, and use more of the engine heat and they might even do away with electric transmissions and starters for much lower costs.

It is hoped that Artemis MHI will make hydraulic locomotive transmissions.

Roger Waller, of DLM, was involved with a similar device for lorries. ..HG..


not worth the money for at best 12% saving, if a waste recovery system cannot get 20-25% fuel efficiency improvement, then it doesn't worth the hassle

Multi-Modal Commuter Dude (formerly known as Bike Commuter Dude)

@ Treehugger:
I don't know if I can agree. In the United states alone, there are over 24,000 locomotives, each using on average 132,800 gallons of diesel annually (based on 2009 data, the most recent available) (1). If the cost of that diesel is on average $3.837/gallon (2), that represents over $12.25Billion (USD) per year in fuel costs to the rail industry. If the SteamTrac system is able to attain a 4% savings, that equates to roughly $490 Million annually in savings. If a 12% savings is realized, as you suggested in your post, that would be more like $1.47 Billion in annual savings.

Of course, this assumes that the price of diesel will remain constant at September 2011 prices, and ignores potential reductions in the cost of operations and maintenance.

25% would be better, I agree; even 4% is a tremendous cost savings, with a correspondingly tremendous reduction in emissions, including GHGs.



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