Solar panels on a CSX train!

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by kf4jqd, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    I was waiting at a railroad crossing for an CSX train. As it went by, it had solar panels on the hoppers! There is a coal power plant in Etowa,TN that these trains feed coal too. Has anyone seen this before. Do you know why it has solar panels on the hoppers?

  2. MapleLeaf

    MapleLeaf Member

    GOOGLE search: "solar panels on railcars"
    yeilds this amongst other results

    paragraph 23

    23. The railcar acoustic monitoring system of claim 4 wherein the power source is a battery, a rechargeable battery, a solar panel, an electrical generator coupled to a rotating component of the railcar running gear, or any combination thereof and wherein the processor is configured to conserve power by entering a sleep mode and actuate upon receiving a
    wake control signal.

    So, they keep the batteries charged on a brake monitoring system

    GOOGLE is your friend. Try it to find answers to questions like this. :thumb:
  3. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Interesting stuff!
  4. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Unfortunately, the pure bureaucratese in #23. above makes a lot less sense than your one-short-sentence translation. :thumb:

    Google is a commercial search engine - it is not anyone's "friend", and frankly, Bing works a lot better. :cool:

    Interesting, because the solar panel is obviously pure redundancy given the train's own electrical system plus the individual car-mounted motion-powered battery charger, so the only purpose the solar panel can possibly serve is to get tax credits under some sort of political "green scheme".
  5. neo74

    neo74 New Member

    I was sitting at a CSX track crossing near Greenback just up from Vonore and also saw these solar panels. I was searching for the reason why as well, and using Google was brought to your thread. It was the same train or group of trains no doubt, as this is the same stretch of track. Have you found anything yet? I had a theory about them using the solar panels to charge batteries or using them to power one specific item on the train. One panel would not provide much current, but all together, yes something large could be powered remotely on the train. The cost of the panels would outweigh the cost of providing a basic circuit at the train depot, so I think the charging batteries is more valid. What if they use it to provide "dynamic braking"?? Anyone?
  6. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Not dynamic braking. That occurs when the throttle is shut down and the engine's weight provides the braking action, just as when you take your foot off the gas to slow your car on a downhill road. No extra juice is required - in fact, the engine in generating extra electricity as it moves.

    The braking system of the train itself is powered by compressed air. Possibly the panels provide a trickle charge to keep the reservoirs pumped up?
  7. inflammable

    inflammable New Member

    Could these have been orange, maintenance of way hoppers? Similar to this?

    A hi-rail truck rolls by, and via computer, will determine how much ballast is needed at a particular point. This information is transferred to a later ballast train. Each hopper has a computer and power supply (solar panel) on it, and will dump the right amount of ballast at each location. People are still needed to monitor it, but not quite so many as a regular, manual ballast dump.

    I think I've seen photos of BNSF cars like this, and probably other Class 1 railroads will have them also.

    Trains had an article about these, sometime within the last couple years.

  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    That would make sense...
  9. TeeDub

    TeeDub New Member

    Solar Panels on hopper cars

    I saw these panels on about 30 BNSF hopper cars a few weeks back in the Billings, Montana area. I wish I knew definitively what they are...I'm about to stop at the local yard and ask somebody.
  10. Ronson2k3

    Ronson2k3 Member

    I've seen solar panels being used for signal emplacements and other line side apparatus. Not so much on moving trains. There are pure electric powered locomotives out there that run only on battery power. The amount of energy consumed is tremendous. If you think of a car that is powered by electricity and a locomotive that not only has pull a train but move itself as well.

    Solar panels could have a use when the engine is idling or not moving to keep heaters and other equipment running without powering the prime mover to do it. This could be a cost savings to railway if multiplied 1000's of times. Perhaps in instances where cars are refridgerated and have to be kept cool that can also benefit. Again though the amount of power consumed versus that being generated is a bit of toss up. If you add in the cost to maintain such a system it may be less cost effective in the long run.

    Cars and locomotives are already high on the vandalism rate. I would think that exposed high tech such as this would be pretty vulnerable.

    Just some thoughts.

    I'm all for high tech transportation both the French and Japanese have taken high speed trains to a new level. Freight will always be at the bottom of the tech. As it's commercially feasible to move it that way. Any tech you ad to the equations will only make it more expensive and less attractive...

    Lineside and communcations equipment being off the grid is a great plan though. These run usually out of the way of people that would want to do them harm and can easily be converted to run off of Solar or wind generated and stored energy. So long as proper safe guards are in place to ensure functionality and security this represents a great saving to the railway as there are millions of these all in daylight all outside and all hard to supply power too by being on the grid.
  11. ytter_man

    ytter_man Member

    That's what they are! A powersource for the GPS system that dumps ballast in particular areas. Mystery solved on a few other forums by RR employees, not sure if i could link to them without a severe talking to...
  12. boppa

    boppa Member

    I got my solar tech install ticket here in australia a while back

    i think you might want to look up energy densities and panel capacities


    there are indeed solar panel arrays that can do the things you suggested (they are often in remote parts of Australia done by solar panels rather than diesel gennies due to noise at motels etc)

    they are HUGE



    if you covered the entire roof of a single carrage

    you `may' (in bright sunny weather only) get enough power to run a aircon unit (what some people have in their bedroom) overnight..

    if you carry a couple of tonnes of leadacid batterys around

    if its a single panel (depending on size)

    it's something that draws mA rather than amps (if its a BIG panel ie 1ft x 3 ft) - 10 to 100's of mA.. maybe..)
  13. boppa

    boppa Member

    does anyone know the `computer' specs, batterys AHr etc etc

    because that has to be the most inept cludged up pos solar install I have ever seen...

    and thats saying something...

    it might be `slightly' worse if it was facedown on the ballast smashed to pieces

    might be-probably not tho
    but probably as usefull as where its bolted ATM..
  14. GESolar

    GESolar New Member

    the solar panels charge the batteries that run the hydro pumps that open the doors. trust me...[​IMG]
  15. marjorie

    marjorie New Member

    Opppss... sorry for the double post. Don't know how to remove the second one. :D
  16. sujiro

    sujiro New Member

    CSX ballast hopper 966265 at Etowah, TN. This hopper and others in the same train has solar panels providing power for the automatic dump chutes beneath the car, allowing the ballast to be dumped in precise amounts based on a computer program.
  17. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    Very interesting! I did not realize these panels could generate that much current. In the event surviving the cataclysmic events that could lead to a post apocalyptic world, I now know where to get some awesome solar panels! :)
  18. violadav

    violadav New Member

    [FONT=&quot]Solar panels can easily become the most important energy source of the future. The energy and heat from the sun is free and once solar panels or solar thermal collectors are set up you does not need to invest any extra cost in it. [/FONT]

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