OptiFuel Systems, a system integrator of Cummins and BAE Systems hybrid power products for decarbonizing the rail, marine, and microgrid power market, is in the process of finalizing a $2.6 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant to demonstrate a pre-production near-zero emission renewable natural gas hybrid 4,300 hp line-haul locomotive. The program will demonstrate that a suite of commercially available, EPA rail-certified engines present a near-term, low risk solution to create an affordable biomethane hybrid line-haul locomotive that will reduce emissions by 99.5% and improve fuel cost by 50%.
This new program, partially funded with the DOE grant, will allow pre-production testing at Association of American Railroads’s (AAR) Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) and will operate in-service with a regional railroad to validate that OptiFuel’s low-risk, affordable technology can also be applied in the higher horsepower freight and passenger locomotive market.
This program is integral to OptiFuel’s 5-year plan to disrupt and decarbonize the rail market with a full line of zero and near-zero NOx, PM and CO2 emissions freight and passenger locomotives. In several weeks, OptiFuel will be announcing that it will start taking orders, in 49 of the U.S. states, for a new line of affordable 800 hp to 3,200 hp, 100% natural gas freight and transit locomotives. All will have zero NOx/PM emissions with carbon-neutral emissions by consuming a CNG/biomethane mixture.
OptiFuel has already developed and tested a high volume CNG/biomethane refueling system at the Indiana Harbor Belt CNG locomotive program, utilizing low-cost CNG. In the next two years, OptiFuel will be announcing additional refueling products, including an affordable 12,000 DGE (Diesel Gallon Equivalent) CNG/biomethane tender; and a 9,000 CNG/biomethane DGE, 1,600 hp zero emission tender.
Beside the U.S. locomotive fleet average NOx emissions of 8 g/bhp-hr, the U.S. rail fleet’s average fine PM emissions is 0.22 g/bhp-hr. In comparison, OptiFuel’s 4,300 renewable natural gas hybrid line-haul locomotive is expected to emit 0.04 g/bhp-hr of NOx, a reduction of 200 times, and emit 0.00 g/bhp-hr of PM. Using biomethane as the fuel, OptiFuel’s locomotive will dramatically lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting in a neutral or negative carbon footprint, in addition to far exceeding California’s Tier 5 locomotive petition standards to U.S. EPA.
This demonstration will include a comprehensive natural gas hybrid propulsion package featuring four 100% natural gas engines– the OptiFuel KOFSG11.9400 (OFS12) and a single Cummins Tier 4, EPA rail certified, diesel-powered QSK60 in a hybrid configuration. This design also includes a 100% battery-electric mode for limited yard operations. OptiFuel’s OFS12 engine is EPA rail certified with emissions of 0.00 g/bhp-hr for both NOx and PM, and is capable of operating on either CNG, LNG, biomethane or a CNG-biomethane blend. The OFS12 engine, which is identical to the Cummins ISX12N for on-road applications, is the cleanest rail engine currently certified by EPA.
The pre-production locomotive will consume 83% natural gas along with 20% improved efficiency versus Tier 4 diesel line-haul freight locomotives. OptiFuel will utilize one of its proprietary, Federal Railway Administration approved onboard CNG/biomethane storage system holding 1,500 DGE to complete the locomotive design.
“We developed and certified these technologies for rail, because we believe there is a need for line-haul locomotives that deliver value and cleaner, more economical solutions simultaneously to railroads, railroad customers, and urban and Environmental Justice communities,” said Scott Myers, President of OptiFuel.