GemEco – The development of new & future rail hybrid technologies
What is GemEco?
GemEco is Gemini Rail Group’s department for the development of new and future rail hybrid technologies on existing UK based rolling stock – these technologies can involve fitment of battery rafts, hydrogen fuel cells or Euro V compliant engine rafts. GemEco is currently working on several exciting projects as outlined below, however due to strict confidentiality agreements with the customer, only high-level details of these projects can be provided at this stage. While it is fully appreciated that finished, delivered case studies are best for comparison, the scarcity of any finished battery-hybrid trains (other than new-build) operating in passenger service on the UK mainline illustrates that this is very much an emerging area within the industry. By getting involved in this sector early and through working on a number of exciting, active projects, Gemini Rail Group through GemEco are well placed to offer Design and Engineering consultancy services, as well as full turnkey provision on any future contracts in this sector.
DC (3rd Rail) Powered EMU to BEMU Hybrid Conversion
Our first GemEco project, and something we are extremely proud to be developing. We have partnered with a leading ROSCO to convert a DC powered Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) to a Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) – this will allow the EMU to operate on partially-electrified lines. This conversion involves relocating existing underframe equipment, fitting two large battery rafts and associated battery management/battery cooling systems.
This design is well progressed and batteries and other associated long lead equipment have been ordered with deliveries and fitment expected to take place during the autumn of 2020. Vehicle testing is expected to be undertaken early 2021.
As part of the contract, Gemini Rail Group will carry out all design and engineering work required to develop and integrate the hybrid solution, including production of 2D and 3D CAD drawings, responsibility for approvals and compliance with all relevant UK rail industry safety standards. Following completion of the design and pending a date to release the donor unit from service, Gemini Rail Group will then carry out the physical conversion works at a remote depot location, as well as developing and managing the test procedure. Following testing and acceptance into service, this initial demonstrator model will run in revenue service, in place of a DMU, for a period in order to prove the design and attract customers.
Should the BEMU hybrid design be successful in winning orders for the ROSCO, Gemini Rail Group will be engaged to develop a fleet-fit design (which will have enhanced functionality over the demonstrator) and will proceed to carry out the programme of fleet conversion (28 units at time of writing).
AC (OHLE) Powered EMU to BEMU Hybrid Conversion
This conversion project is currently in the feasibility/concept phase; but builds on the good work that has been undertaken on the DC powered BEMU discussed above. The battery rafts developed have been standardised (for gauging and weight distribution) where possible to allow them to be fitted onto multiple vehicle types – for this fleet the only difference to the battery rafts being fitted to the DC powered BEMU are the mounting arrangements to the vehicle underframe – this allows us to have a standard type battery raft which can be utilised across multiple vehicle types.
Gemini Rail Group are currently in discussions with a leading ROSCO with regards to developing the design to a prototype design, with a full design and build contract, with fleet option to follow.
Hydrogen Powered Vehicle – Energy Storage System Design
Whilst Gemini Rail Group have not been actively involved in the hydrogen technology fitment on this project; we are currently developing costing for a battery raft suitable to be fitted to this rail vehicle; this will build on the good work that has been developed in the above projects and keep to the as much standardised design as practicable.
DEMU to DBEMU Powered Hybrid
Working with the owners of a very large Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) ﬂeet, this project will see an initial ﬁrst-in-class vehicle developed. A hybrid solution will be designed to allow the reduction of diesel engine usage when in built up areas/locations – this would be in the form of converting the unit to a Diesel Battery Electric Multiple Unit (DBEMU). Concept design work was due to start during the summer of 2020, however this now has been delayed slightly due to the Covid19 pandemic, design work is now expected to commence late 2020 / early 2021. This is an exciting project to be developing as this would be the ﬁrst diesel-hybrid solution GemEco would have designed and developed.
HybridFLEX 1st in Class Fitment
Gemini Rail Group are pleased that they have been awarded the fitment contract of an MTU Euro V compliant 6H 1800 engine to a Class 168 DMU. Whilst Gemini Rail Group was not actively involved in the initial design phases; this project will provide our front-line staff with vital knowledge of hybrid conversion works which will provide critical learning when the above projects move into the fitment phase.
In addition to rail vehicle hybridisation, GemEco is also investigating a number of decarbonisation work streams for existing diesel powered vehicles; we have recently partnered with the Birmingham Centre of Rail Research and Education (BCRRE) to investigate how we can improve current diesel powered rolling stock within the UK – this would be in the form of modifying existing older engines to reduce emissions and provide better fuel economies; solutions and offerings are expected to developed during 2020.