Digital Displacement® used to cut locomotive consumption

Our railways are one of the greenest ways of getting from A to B.

Electrified trains running on renewable power offer low carbon transit for all.

Yet not all railways are electrified – in fact in many countries less than half their lines are electric.

The high capital costs and the time taken to electrifying these existing lines means that many of the world’s railways will continue to rely on diesel or other forms of fuel for some years to come – with millions of journeys taking place on non-electrified track.

At Danfoss, our ground-breaking Digital Displacement technology can be used to cut consumption in existing locomotives – and improve efficiency in future trains. By as much as 30 percent.

Digital Displacement rail project

In one study, with UK rail operator First ScotRail, we discovered that between 64 and 73 percent of a train’s energy is lost through braking and transmission.

In response to this, our Digital Displacement team began a number of initiatives to demonstrate the significant benefits which digital hydraulics can bring to all rail vehicles.

In late 2017 they teamed up with ScotRail to test a standard commuter train fitted with a new type of digital hydraulic pump.

In this test, part-funded by the Rail Safety and Strategy Board (RSSB), they replaced the standard hydraulic unit used to power each carriage’s cooling fans and generate electricity, which together use up around ten to 15 percent of the engine’s fuel.

In late 2017 they teamed up with rail operator ScotRail to test a standard commuter train fitted with a new type of digital hydraulic pump.

The specially equipped ScotRail class 170 Turbostar was put through its paces on major passenger routes including Glasgow-Edinburgh and Perth-Inverness.

We calculate this technology will save over 9,000 litres of fuel per carriage per year, and if adopted Scotland-wide across their fleet of class 170 diesel trains, it would reduce ScotRail’s annual CO₂ emissions by more than four thousand tonnes, and fuel use by more than 1.5 million litres.

The trains of the future may rely on a variety of fuel sources – such as blue or green hydrogen, or biodiesel. All of these fuels will come at a cost, and any technology which can reduce overall fuel use will speed our transition to a low carbon world.

At Danfoss, we believe Digital Displacement can contribute significantly to net zero rail.

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