Largest Biomass Freight Car unveiled in UK

By Chris Hanson | July 29, 2013

Lloyd’s Register Rail, Drax and WH Davis unveiled the largest biomass freight car at the National Railway Museum in York, U.K.

With a 30 percent larger volume capacity than freight cars currently deployed in the U.K., the car has more than 2,500 cubic foot capacity and is able to transport 71.6 metric tons of biomass. In addition to a larger hauling capacity, the car features automatic, magnetic door operation and efficient flow control to manage biomass loading and unloading.

The project began in January and presented design engineers with a number of challenges. “This is the sort of project that designers relish,” said Richard Gibney, professional head traction and rolling stock of Lloyd’s. “An opportunity to take a current design and re-imagine the entire concept , taking advantage of what we have learned from the performance of the existing model, removing some of the inefficiencies and delivering an optimized design.”  

Gibnev said one unique challenge of the venture was to meeting the project objectives while conforming to industry standards. “We are proud to have produced a design that fits the brief precisely and will serve our client’s business for years to come.”

WH Davis managed the manufacturing efforts of the freight car. “This has been one of the most challenging fabrications we have undertaken,” said Ian Whelpton, sales and marketing director of WH Davis. “By working with the wagon designers from the beginning, we have been able to manufacture the required innovations and achieve the significantly increased cubic capacity.”

Drax has ordered 200 of the units to contribute to its coal to biomass conversion. Drax Production Director Peter Emery said the company’s transformation has led to a growing need for “bigger and better” freight cars that accelerate the delivery process. “The finished product is an industry-leading design and fulfills all the criteria we set,” he said. “We may be launching it in a museum, but this (freight car) is no museum piece and will not be surpassed for many years to come.”