Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rail Freight Tests New Diesel Emissions Technology in the Battle to Defeat Road Haulage

California Takes the Lead Again in Fight Against Pollution
Shipping News Feature

US –The battle cry of the rail lobby has always been the reduced levels of pollution for freight carried on the tracks when compared to the road haulage of cargo. Now the Union Pacific Railroad is investing $20 million to test new technology designed to reduce emissions from diesel powered freight locomotives in California. A series of twenty five experimental locomotives will be based in two Union Pacific rail yards in California as part of a rigorous test of emissions-reducing technologies. The investment represents Union Pacific's latest effort to further reduce emissions and move closer to America’s EPA's Tier 4 emission standards for new locomotives due to commence in 2015. The experimental engines are intermediate line-haul units, with an operating range of approximately 200 miles, and will be used exclusively in California. Mike Iden, Union Pacific general director, car and locomotive engineering said:

"The testing and analysis of these locomotives is part of an ongoing initiative at Union Pacific to develop and use technology in pursuit of emissions reductions. This effort is emblematic of our continued commitment to provide environmentally responsible freight transportation."

One locomotive in this series of twenty five will be based in Roseville to test the combined use of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel oxidation catalyst, and diesel particulate filtering. In testing the combined benefits of these three technologies on one freight locomotive, this Union Pacific unit is the closest an Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) locomotive has come to achieving Tier 4 standards. The move toward Tier 4 is made up of a 45% reduction in the oxides of nitrogen emissions compared to current Tier 2 standards and an 85% reduction in particulate matter emissions based on preliminary analysis. Union Pacific and the California Air Resources Board will jointly analyse the emissions reductions capability of this locomotive over the next eighteen months.

Nine of the experimental units fitted with the EGR technology are based in the Colton, California area and will be tested through operations in the southern California region. The remaining 15 experimental units will work out of Roseville for operations in northern California. These locomotives have the capability to be retrofitted with EGR and other emissions reduction technologies as testing progresses. The Proposition 1B – Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program is partially funding this set of locomotives. Testing on all 25 locomotives is scheduled to last through 2014.

In partnering with EMD to develop these experimental locomotives, Union Pacific continues working to upgrade and improve the fuel-efficiency of its locomotive fleet. Since 2000, Union Pacific has invested approximately $6.56 billion to purchase locomotives that meet the EPA's updated emissions guidelines and an additional $200 million to upgrade older locomotives in the fleet to reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency. That's nearly 3,800 new, fuel-efficient locomotives in all. These purchases allow Union Pacific to retire older, less-efficient locomotives, thus improving overall fleet fuel economy and reducing Union Pacific's emissions rate.