OAKLAND, Calif. – Union Pacific Railroad has begun a year-long test in an Oakland rail yard to determine if an experimental after market exhaust system filter will reduce diesel engine emissions in older railroad locomotives.
“Our goal is to find innovative methods of further reducing exhaust emissions to create a better environment,” said Bob Grimaila, Union Pacific’s vice president for environment and safety.
A 1,500-horsepower yard locomotive built in November 1982 has been retrofitted with diesel particulate filters or “DPFs.”
The DPF initiative is the result of a four-year program, funded in part by Union Pacific, to assess exhaust after market technologies for locomotive applications. The DPF uses high-temperature silicon carbide blocks to trap particulate matter in the exhaust. As gases containing the carbon particles accumulate, the device periodically heats the carbon, causing it to ignite and burn off as carbon dioxide.
The diesel engine has been outfitted with various sensors that can remotely monitor, with the help of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology, in real-time the engine and DPF system operation. Remote real-time monitoring capability helps researchers evaluate how the engine and the experimental filters are functioning. Its emissions performance and the maintenance requirements for the locomotive will be assessed at the end of the one-year test period.
The locomotive was subjected to EPA locomotive standards testing before and after the DPF was installed, using standard EPA non-road diesel fuel and ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel that UP is now using for intrastate locomotives in California. During static testing, particulate emissions were reduced 80 percent when the DPF was installed.
Union Pacific will also begin a year-long field test in the Los Angeles area of the North America rail industry’s first long-haul diesel electric locomotive modified with after market experimental technology aimed at reducing hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate exhaust emissions.
Currently, about 50 percent of Union Pacific’s more than 8,200-unit locomotive fleet is certified under existing EPA Tier 0, Tier 1 or Tier 2 regulations governing air emissions. That gives Union Pacific the most environmentally friendly locomotive fleet in the nation.
Union Pacific has tested, and is acquiring, two types of environmentally friendly low-horsepower rail yard locomotives.
The Genset locomotive is powered by three 700-horsepower low-emissions U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) non-road Tier 3-certified diesel engines projected to reduce emissions of both nitrous oxides and particulate matter by up to 80 percent, while using as much as 40 percent less fuel compared to current low-horsepower locomotives.
The second type of environmentally friendly low horsepower rail yard locomotive, known as the Green Goat, uses state-of-the-art diesel-battery hybrid-technology designed to cut air emissions by 80 percent and reduce diesel fuel use by 40 percent compared to conventional diesel-powered locomotives used in switching service.
The hybrid switcher is powered with large banks of batteries. When energy stored in the batteries is depleted to a pre-set level, a small, low-emission diesel engine automatically starts to power a generator that recharges the batteries.
It is anticipated that these switching locomotives will receive California Air Resources Board (CARB) recognition as Ultra-Low Emitting Locomotives (ULEL), in addition to exceeding the EPA’s stringent Locomotive Tier 2 standards, Union Pacific said. These ULELs are a direct result of Union Pacific’s efforts to encourage development of ever-cleaner technology by its locomotive suppliers, according to Union Pacific.
The ultra-low emissions of these locomotives will help Union Pacific meet its commitment to CARB to reduce its fleet average nitrous oxide emissions inside the South Coast Nonattainment Area by 2010.
In addition to the emission reductions that the Genset and hybrid locomotives will achieve in the South Coast, a June 30, 2005, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among CARB, Union Pacific and BNSF Railway will further reduce diesel emissions in and around the state’s rail yards. The important agreement calls for reductions that will be greater and quicker than any that could have resulted from regulatory processes.
This was the second significant agreement of this type. The first one was signed in 1998 and covered nitrous oxide emissions (NOx) from locomotives. Under the first agreement, NOx levels from locomotives will be reduced by 67 percent in the South Coast Nonattainment Area. The June 2005 agreement represents the next logical step in the process and will reduce particulate matter (PM) emissions statewide.
CARB has estimated the MOU will reduce particulate emissions by approximately 20 percent at rail yards by June 2008 when all the program’s elements are phased in. Union Pacific expects to spend more than $20 million implementing the program.