OMAHA, Neb. – Union Pacific Railroad is testing a hybrid, battery-powered locomotive called the “Green Goat” in its Chicago railyards to determine if it is a feasible alternative to conventional diesel-electric locomotives.
“The Green Goat test is an opportunity for us to try a novel technological approach in our never-ending search for an alternative fuel for locomotives,” said Mike Iden, Union Pacific’s general director of car and locomotive engineering.
“This locomotive could also reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxides, or NOx, by as much as 90 percent, when compared to current diesel-fueled locomotives,” Iden added.
“Hybrid power technology has already demonstrated, in automotive applications, its ability to perform more economically and reduce emissions. The Green Goat locomotive, we believe, can provide a similar opportunity for the railroads, but at a comparatively better economic entry point than was initially experienced by the automotive industry,” said Frank Donnelly, Chief Technology Officer, RailPower Technologies Corp., manufacturer of the hybrid locomotive.
The railroad has been testing this locomotive in its railyard at Roseville, Calif., since March 2002. The locomotive was moved to Chicago for cooler weather testing in January 2003. Testing is scheduled to be completed in June 2003.
The batteries in this hybrid locomotive produce the same amount of energy as a locomotive powered by an electrical generator attached to a 2,000-horsepower diesel engine. A 2,000-horsepower locomotive is used primarily in railyards. Typically,
3,000 to 4,400-horsepower locomotives are used to pull trains between cities.
Union Pacific’s comprehensive test of the hybrid battery-powered locomotive is evaluating the locomotive’s emissions, performance, maintenance requirements and economic feasibility. The battery charging system is also being studied.
Throughout Union Pacific’s 140-year history, the railroad has evaluated a variety of alternative fuels, or power sources, for locomotives. They include wood, coal, fuel oil, diesel fuel and liquefied natural gas. Locomotive “technologies” also have changed from steam to diesel-electric and electric.
A “goat,” in railroad slang, refers to a locomotive used in railyards.