Canadian National Railway is testing two locomotives fueled primarily by natural gas in northern Alberta, a major step in the railroad industry’s determination of whether the alternative fuel is feasible.
CN used conversion kits supplied by Energy Conversions to retrofit two 3,000-horsepower Electro Motive Diesel SD40-2 locomotives. CN said the retrofitted locomotives produce 30 percent less carbon dioxide emissions and 70 percent less nitrogen oxide emissions during the lifecycle of the equipment.
Natural gas fuels 90 percent of the locomotives, with diesel fuel kicking in 10 percent of the power for ignition. Minnesota-based Chart Industries is providing the tender unit, and Ecana Corp. is supplying the natural gas.
"Natural gas has a lower carbon content compared with diesel fuel, so that locomotives using natural gas — if the railway technology employing this form of energy ultimately proves viable — would produce significantly fewer carbon dioxide emissions,” said Keith Creel, CN executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Through a longer-term project, the railroad is also working with EMD, Westport Innovations and Gaz Metro Solutions to look at the potential for a natural gas railway engine and standardized railway tender. The CN-led group expects to conduct laboratory tests in 2013 before testing the prototypes in the field the following year.