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Proposed Sail Train Energy Generator
Last Updated on:  06/25/2015 06:30 AM


OK, maybe you donít like the problems associated with my sailboat idea.  How about a sailtrain?   If a wind sail could be used to generate electricity on a boat, perhaps it could also work for a special railroad train.  Perhaps a special track would be laid to take advantage of some prevailing winds. The train generator, along with some smaller pilot trains, would deploy a very large sail.  The sail would capture the wind and pull the train down the tracks.  Special wheels on the train would lock onto the rails, preventing the train from being lifted off the ground.  Generators on the train would convert the motion into electricity.  The electricity would be fed to a power grid, using power cables positioned at the side of the train tracks, thus eliminating the need for any energy to be stored.

Maybe the track system would be 50 miles long, constructed to form a long narrow oval shape.  Two trains might work together.  One might be generating electricity while the other was running quickly back to the starting line.   When each train reached the end of the track, it would fold up its sail and quickly loop back to the beginning of the large oval track at high speed, taking perhaps less than an hour.  This two-train method would keep the energy flowing as long as the wind was blowing

With sufficient separation, multiple trains could also run on the same set of tracks, further increasing the energy collection.  With a 5-mile separation, 10 trains could be running on the same 50 mile long set of tracks.

Assuming a 30% conversion efficiency and a wind speed of 35MPH, each train could generate 70 million watts of electricity.  Under such wind conditions, a 10-train system would be able to produce enough power for city of 350,000 homes. 

If the average daily power was only 25 megawatts per train, a 10-train system could produce 2.2 million megawatt hours of energy per year.  At a price of $100 per megawatt hour, such a train could make 220 million dollars per year.  

Sure, there might be a problem with birds.  Rain could make the sail too heavy to be deployed.  During severe weather, the sail would have to be folded up quickly to avoid being torn apart.  Still, I like the idea of producing clean electricity without any pollution, without any ash to dispose of and without needing any water or other resources.

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