Accurately Measuring the Energy Consumption of High-speed Trains using Optics

How INO and the NRCC leveraged optical technology to precisely measure wind and its impact on high-speed trains during testing. 

The fuel consumption of a vehicle in the city or on the highway is a concept that is well known to automotive retailers and consumers. What is a little less known is that high-speed train manufacturers must also comply with strict standards and accurately demonstrate the energy consumption of their vehicles. The problem is that, until now, the tests had to be conducted in the almost total absence of wind, which is never guaranteed and can lead to the outright rejection of the results obtained during a testing session... a huge waste of time and money for the teams that must then start everything again from scratch. What if it were possible to accurately measure the wind and quantify its effects using optical technologies? This is the challenge that was set by the National Research Council Canada (NRCC), and which has been met thanks to the partnership with INO. 

INO and the NRCC were the ideal choices to succeed in this mission, because their collaboration from 2013 to 2018 had given rise to the very first laser anemoneter for road vehicles. In 2021, the foundations were therefore well established to meet the needs of a major European high-speed train manufacturer. Based on this experience, INO developed a laser anemometer last year that measures the speed of aerosols driven by the wind in front of a moving train in real time through the Doppler effect. The apparent wind speed and direction are calculated by aerodynamic post-processing software developed by the NRCC. In this way, the validity of the tests is guaranteed. 

Given that a test is scheduled from two to three months in advance, costs approximately $100,000, and monopolizes at least six experts in addition to a train, the time and money saved may be considerable when the validity of the results is guaranteed in advance. In addition, it greatly accelerates deliveries to clients. 

After trains, buses? 

The technology developed jointly by INO and the NRCC could be deployed elsewhere in the field of transportation, particularly to improve the aerodynamic performance and reduce the energy consumption of buses. In this era when public transportation is “in the wind”, this innovation might soon “have the wind in its sails”.

Financially, it's extremely beneficial for manufacturers, since it allows them to conduct tests with the certainty of returning to the factory with valid data.