Philadelphia Subaway Feeding Braking Energy to Grid


When a subway train pulls into a station, it produces two things:  a loud screeching sound and lots of kinetic energy.  The Philadelphia subway is putting that second thing to good use by capturing the kinetic energy produced when trains put on the brakes.

A 1.5-MW regenerative braking system will be installed along the Market-Frankford line, which has the highest ridership in the city.  A huge battery will capture the kinetic energy that will then be used by trains accelerating out of the stations, stored for future use or fed to the grid.  The Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will have the option to either use the power produced or sell it to the local utility.

The trains already use regenerative braking on a smaller scale but half of the energy is lost as heat.  This pilot program is aiming to dramatically increase the power captured.

The project should be completed by next spring and could save the transit authority $500,000 in energy costs.  If all Philadelphia stations were outfitted with the system, energy consumption could be cut by 40 percent.

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