Rail­ways wait­ing for reg­u­la­tory green sig­nal to con­duct trial run of LNG train

Af­ter suc­cess­ful run with CNG, the trans­porter is eye­ing an­other fuel op­tion

The Hindu Business Line - - NEWS - MAMUNI DAS

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful ex­per­i­men­tal run with com­pressed nat­u­ral gas (CNG), In­dian Rail­ways has set its eyes on liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas (LNG) as an al­ter­na­tive fuel op­tion. The trans­porter is await­ing reg­u­la­tory ap­provals for con­duct­ing tri­als.

LNG re­quires less stor­age space than CNG which makes it a more ef­fi­cient and con­ve­nient op­tion. By stor­ing LNG in the same space as CNG, trains can run for three times the dis­tance, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts. The CNG ex­per­i­ment was con­ducted on 21 trains.

LNG is be­ing tried out in Rus­sia, North Amer­ica and Spain.

The CNG ex­per­i­ment

Of the trains run­ning on CNG, 20 are in the North­ern Rail­ways and one in South Cen­tral Rail­way. A de­ci­sion on scal­ing up CNG train-run ex­per­i­ment de­pends on whether more re­fu­elling A CNG ex­per­i­ment was con­ducted on 21 trains

sta­tions can be set up.

The­o­ret­i­cally, use of CNG re­sulted in 8-11 per cent sav­ings against a sim­i­lar train run­ning on diesel. How­ever, in CNG-based trains, the Rail­ways has fit­ted cas­cades, a group of cylin­ders, with stor­age space for CNG that takes away the space equiv­a­lent to a third of a full coach. Re­plac­ing the en­ergy stor­ages with seats, would have re­sulted in ex­tra rev­enue for the Rail­ways.Now, it wants to try out LNG as al­ter­na­tive fuel and es­ti­mate the sav­ings it can make. LNG scores over CNG in sev­eral

ar­eas in­clud­ing space re­quired for stor­age which means a train can run for a longer dis­tance with the same quan­tity of LNG. “In the space al­lo­cated for CNG stor­age in trains, Rail­ways can store LNG, which will gen­er­ate three times the en­ergy. In sim­ple terms, same amount of LNG stored in the space meant for CNG can haul a train for a much longer dis­tance with­out re­quir­ing re­fu­elling, and thus with­out hav­ing to stop,” Su­bodh Ku­mar Sa­gar, Chief Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer, In­dian Rail­ways Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Al­ter­nate Fu­els (IROAF), said in a con­fer­ence re­cently.

Rail­ways needs a reg­u­la­tory mech­a­nism to in­stall the stor­age in trains and in ter­mi­nals, from Lucknow-based Re­search De­signs and Stan­dards Or­gan­i­sa­tion (RDSO) and Nag­pur-based Petroleum Ex­plo­sive Safety Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The Rail­ways now re­quires a net­work of LNG fu­elling points to en­sure re­fu­elling ca­pac­ity.

Trial run

For the tri­als, the Rail­ways mulls at­tach­ing an LNG tanker to a train which can be re­fu­elled at the end of the jour­ney. The cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis is yet to be fi­nalised. Based on early es­ti­mates, a rail­way of­fi­cial ex­plained, “in­stalling an LNG tanker will re­quire 30 per cent higher cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture than CNG, while the run­ning cost of LNG will be cheaper by 40 per cent.”

The big­gest ex­pen­di­ture will be on the re­fu­elling in­fras­truc­ture, which will have to be de­cided at a na­tional level. The re­fu­elling in­fras­truc­ture re­quires points for stor­age, re­tail, de­canta­tion, and fill­ing the tanks.

“Rail­ways had in­creased its adop­tion of biodiesel in 201516 and 2016-17 which dropped in 2017-18. This dip can be at­trib­uted to GST im­ple­men­ta­tion which im­pacted biodiesel mak­ers. Biodiesel be­came more ex­pen­sive than diesel,” said an of­fi­cial.

An­other al­ter­na­tive en­ergy that Rail­ways has started adopt­ing is so­lar, both at sta­tions and on trains.. Flexi-so­lar pan­els for trains, de­vel­oped by pub­lic sec­tor unit Cen­tral Elec­tron­ics Ltd, are able to gen­er­ate enough power to meet the light­ing and fan re­quire­ments of coaches.

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