Norfolk Southern Railway and Electro-Motive Diesel will run “extensive” tests of biodiesel fuel, monitoring the use of two blends in both linehaul and switcher locomotive units.
The effort pairs one of the four largest U.S. railroads with one of the top two U.S. locomotive manufacturers. “Our work with EMD will hopefully result in an environmentally sensitive, domestically produced fuel option for the rail industry,” said Blair Wimbush, NS vice president-real estate and corporate sustainability officer.
The firms said theirs “will be one of the most extensive testing programs to date on the use of biodiesel fuel for locomotives.”
The program can help to “positively impact the environment and decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil,” said John S. Hamilton, EMD’s president and CEO.
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel usually made from oil-rich plants such as soy but sometimes from animal fats. Its use can cut greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants compared with burning just petroleum-based diesel. Wimbush said the rail company “is committed to exploring ways to conduct our business using renewable resources.”
The tests will include eight of the large model SD70M-2 locomotives, plus two MP15 switchers that are made by EMD but owned and operated by NS.
They will use blends that mix 10 to 20 percent biodiesel with 80 to 90 percent petroleum diesel, run the engines in regular service for nine to 11 months and evaluate their emissions plus fuel consumption, performance and wear.
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