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OptiFuel Systems LLC last week shipped two dual fuel locomotive engine systems to Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad (IHB), which will use them for its compressed natural gas (CNG) repower program.The systems will be installed on the first two of 31 CNG Tier 4 switcher locomotives in IHB's program, according to an OptiFuel Systems press release.The dual fuel natural gas system includes OptiFuel Systems-designed onboard CNG storage units and trackside CNG refueling station. IHB is the first U.S. railroad to convert its fleet to clean-burning natural gas as its primary fuel source, OptiFuel officials said.The railroad contracted the system design, assembly and integration for the entire natural gas fuel system to OptiFuel Systems, and the overall design, assembly and integration to R. J. Corman Railpower Locomotives LLC.IHB is making a "substantial investment" to change its locomotive fleet to CNG and eliminate harmful emissions, said Michael Nicoletti, director of the railroad's mechanical operations."At the end of the program in 2020, 70 percent of IHB's fleet will be converted to utilizing CNG as its primary source," Nicoletti said. "Introducing CNG as a viable fuel into the freight rail industry is a role that the IHB embraces in both its unique challenges and operational and environmental rewards."OptiFuel's technology is designed to provide "solutions and support to Class I, II and III railroads as they seek ways to mediate the recognized adverse environmental impacts of their aging switcher fleets," said Scott Myers, president of OptiFuel Systems.Twenty-one of the IHB locomotives will feature a 1,500-horsepower twin engine design that will use two OptiFuel Systems 750-horsepower dual fuel engines that meet or exceed Tier 4 emissions reduction categories.The modular CNG-onboard storage system on each locomotive was engineered and manufactured by Mainstay Fuel Technologies Inc. under a subcontract with OptiFuel. The trackside CNG refueling station equipment was manufactured by ANGI Energy Systems under a subcontract to OptiFuel.
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