Next Generation Ultra-Low-Emission Rail Yard Locomotive Being Tested in Chicago
First of Four Environmentally Friendly Locomotives to be on the Job in California this Spring is Put Though Its Paces at Union Pacific’s Northlake Rail Yard
Latest Version Genset Switcher
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The rail industry’s latest version of the Union Pacific-sponsored environmentally friendly yard switching locomotive is being tested in Chicago before going to work in Roseville, Calif. This ultra-low-emitting yard locomotive will be used to push rail cars over a rail yard incline, where gravity then moves the rail cars into tracks assigned to the rail car’s next destination. The latest models have six traction motors compared to four on the 159 Genset switchers UP currently owns. The additional traction motors provide increased power to push rail cars over the rail yard incline.
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Additional Green Technology at Union Pacific
Creating a Green Locomotive
UP and the Environment
Omaha, Neb., March 28, 2008 Union Pacific Railroad today unveiled the first of four of the latest version of ultra-low-emitting environmentally friendly diesel locomotives that will be used in a rail yard to push rail cars over an incline, or "hump," where gravity then takes the cars into destination-specific tracks. This new locomotive was developed by Union Pacific and is part of the railroad’s ongoing efforts to continue reducing air emissions in cooperation with federal, state and local environmental agencies.
The new 2,000-horsepower locomotives are called Generator-Set or "Genset" switchers and are powered by three 667-horsepower ultra-low-emission U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off-road Tier 3-certified diesel engines. The projected reduction in emissions of nitrous oxides is 80 percent and particulate matter by 90 percent, while using up to 30 percent less fuel compared to current older switching locomotives. The fuel savings also translates into an up to 30 percent green house gas reduction.
"We continue to voluntarily research and develop new technologies to reduce locomotive emissions and this latest version of the Union Pacific-sponsored Genset locomotive is another end product of that hard work," said Bob Grimaila, Union Pacific's vice president-environment and safety. "Union Pacific is committed to preserving our environment by reducing emissions to help improve air quality and conserve fuel."
The four new versions of the Genset switcher locomotives will be used at Union Pacific’s J. R. Davis Rail Yard in Roseville, Calif. The latest Genset switchers are equipped with six traction motors instead of four traction motors. The two additional traction motors gives the new version of the Genset switcher increased "pushing" power over the four traction motor Genest, something that will be useful while the new locomotives are working to push rail cars over hump at J. R. Davis Rail Yard.
Union Pacific began studies and tests of the prototype Genset switcher locomotive in 2002 and now has a total of 159 of the ultra-low emission locomotives working in California and Texas. Several other United States railroads have recently followed U.P.’s lead and are using similar Genset switching locomotives, while railroads in Canada, Mexico and South America are interested in the technology.
Generator Set or Genset Switcher Locomotive
In the early 1930s, electricity began replacing steam as the "power" used to move locomotives. Diesel became the fuel of choice to power the on-board engine that turned electric power generators producing electricity to drive motors attached to axles and wheels.
Since locomotives do not require maximum horsepower (1,200- to 2,100-horsepower for switch or yard locomotives and 4,000-to-6,000-horsepower for long-haul road locomotives) all the time, Union Pacific’s Mike Iden, general director of car and locomotive engineering, looked into the development of a switching locomotive that would use multiple smaller diesel engines, running in combinations of 1, 2 or 3 engines, to produce the required horsepower levels. Modern off-road diesel engines are capable of providing the lower power required by typical switching locomotives while reducing fuel consumption and, most importantly, exhaust emissions.
Iden’s idea was to package the diesel engine, electrical generator and the cooling system radiator in one compact, easily replaced module called a Generator Set or "Genset."
Mass-produced locomotives with multiple diesel engines had previously been manufactured in the United States, but never using the design concept of multiple, modular, easily replaceable Gensets. The only exception was an experimental high-speed passenger locomotive built with modular diesel-generator sets in 1941; it was never sold nor were any other such locomotives built.
Union Pacific’s "Green" Fleet
About 55 percent of Union Pacific’s more than 8,500-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 continues to evaluate, one other type of environmentally friendly low-horsepower rail yard locomotive called the "Green Goat." It uses state-of-the-art diesel-battery hybrid-technology designed to cut air emissions by 80 percent and reduce diesel fuel use by 16 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.
Union Pacific is also testing two types of "after-market" technologies to determine if they reduce emissions in older locomotives. They are:
- An experimental "oxidation catalyst" filtering canister, or "Oxicat," which was installed inside the diesel engine’s exhaust manifold on a high-horsepower long-haul locomotive in January 2007. This locomotive began a field test in the Los Angeles area, which will end sometime in 2008. This is the North American rail industry’s first long-haul diesel electric locomotive modified with after-market experimental technology aimed at reducing exhaust emissions. The special catalytic material chemically reduces the amount of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter generated by the diesel engine, much like a catalytic converter on today’s cars and trucks.
- A Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) which was attached to a low-horsepower yard locomotive that is operating in Union Pacific’s Oakland rail yard. This field test, which began in December 2006, is also the North America rail industry’s first experimental after-market exhaust system filter to determine if it will reduce diesel engine emissions in older locomotives used in rail yards.
Fuel Savings through Fuel Masters
Since 2004, Union Pacific has achieved a more than five percent improvement in fuel efficiency through the Fuel Masters program. This innovative program rewards locomotive engineers for efficiently operating trains. In 2007, Union Pacific saved more than 20 million gallons of diesel fuel. The company has more fuel savings improvement opportunities ahead as the Fuel Masters program and other initiatives are refined and expanded across the railroad.
About Union Pacific
Union Pacific Corporation owns one of America’s leading transportation companies. Its principal operating company, Union Pacific Railroad, links 23 states in the
western two-thirds of the country and serves the fastest-growing U.S. population centers. Union Pacific’s diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Energy, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad offers competitive long-haul routes from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways. Union Pacific connects with Canada’s rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major gateways to Mexico, making it North America’s premier rail franchise.
For more information, contact Mark Davis at (402) 544-5459.
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