Status of the Advanced Locomotive Propulsion System (ALPS) Project

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Herbst, J.D.
Thelen, R.F
Walls, W.A.

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The University of Texas at Austin Center for Electromechanics (UT-CEM) is currently developing an Advanced Locomotive Propulsion System (ALPS) as part of the Next Generation High Speed Rail program sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Testing of the advanced propulsion system will be conducted as a portion of the FRA Non-Electric High Speed Locomotive Demonstration program. The project goal is to develop a non-electric locomotive propulsion system capable of 150 mph operation on existing infrastructure with good fuel economy and low noise and pollutant emissions. The propulsion system consists of two major elements: (1) a high speed generator directly coupled to a 5,000 hp gas turbine (turboalternator) to provide prime power and (2) an energy storage flywheel to provide additional power for acceleration and speed maintenance on grades, and to recover kinetic energy during braking. In addition to improving the overall system efficiency, the energy storage flywheel also provides load leveling for the turbine, reducing thermal cycling and significantly extending turbine maintenance intervals. The paper provides an overview of the ALPS system and presents the results of performance simulations to illustrate the benefits of the system. The paper also provides the current status of the project, along with component test results as available.


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J.D. Herbst, R.F. Thelen, and W.A. Walls, “Status of the Advanced Locomotive Propulsion System (ALPS) project,” HSGTA Conference 2000, Philadelphia, PA, USA, May 10-13, 2000.