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Rail News Home Mechanical

March 2009

Rail News: Mechanical

Mechanical Equipment for the Eco-Minded

By Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor

The term “green” is widely used, and arguably over-used, to describe an environmentally friendly building or piece of equipment. But for railroads, the word “black” is similarly apropos. They aim to use locomotives that spew less black exhaust emissions into the air and spill less black oil onto the ground.

However you color it, railroads are trying to be better environmental stewards in their mechanical departments. To help further their cause, suppliers offer a variety of environmentally friendly locomotive and rail-car equipment that can help reduce air emissions, cut fuel consumption and control oil leaks.

In Part 1 of a green products review, Progressive Railroading spotlights a cross-section of new and existing equipment that nine suppliers are marketing to the rail industry.

Electro-Motive Diesel Inc.

Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. (EMD) offers the 710ECO™ Repower as a green option for repowering existing 2,000- to 3,150-horsepower locomotives.

The 710ECO Repower meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Tier 2 emission standards (and will comply with upcoming tiers), reduces emissions up to 70 percent and cuts fuel usage up to 25 percent, according to EMD.

The locomotive features a microprocessor electronic control and adhesion system designed to improve traction, and an automatic engine start/stop system to reduce idling and cut emissions. EMD has installed a microprocessor-based control system in more than 5,000 locomotives.

The 710ECO Repower solution enables railroads to tailor motive power performance to their specifications, such as by increasing availability, reliability and utilization, according to EMD. Unlike GenSets, a Repower is designed to operate continuously at maximum-rated horsepower.

Last year, the company converted one EMD GP9 to a repowered EMD GP22ECO for Canadian Pacific.

GE Transportation

In 2005, GE Transportation introduced the Evolution® Series locomotive, which is designed to reduce air emissions up to 40 percent and cut fuel usage up to 5 percent compared with the company’s previous-generation locomotives.

Developed over an eight-year period at a cost of about $400 million, the Evolution Series also can meet the next generation of EPA emission standards, including Tier 3 and Tier 4. Since 2005, GE has delivered more than 3,000 Evolution Series locomotives to railroads in North America and overseas.

The company also continues to develop the Trip Optimizer, a fuel-saving “cruise control” locomotive device. The Trip Optimizer is designed to pre-plan a velocity profile through a subdivision by taking into account train manifest information, track profile, track speed limits and temporary slow orders.

By setting an optimal speed profile, a train’s momentum is used to reduce the energy needed to maintain velocity, helping to avoid braking whenever possible, GE said in an email. The device can reduce energy between 5 percent and 12 percent (depending on the terrain), correlating to a 5 percent to 12 percent reduction in fuel consumption and emissions, according to the company.

In the final testing stage, the Trip Optimizer currently is being piloted in revenue service at two Class Is.

Interstate Diesel Service

Interstate Diesel Service offers ECOTIP® ULTRASTACK fuel injectors, which are designed to reduce emissions. The injectors are part of the original EMD Certified Tier 0 kits that meet the EPA’s Tier 0 emission standards.

ECOTIP® SUPERSTACK green-tag injectors can cut fuel usage 2 percent to 3 percent, while SUPERSTACK or ULTRASTACK black-tag injectors can be customized to address specific application challenges, such as to reduce “souping” at extended idle, deter wet stacking, lower NOx levels and cut emissions, Interstate Diesel said in an email.

Owned by Interstate-McBee L.L.C. and an OEM partner with EMD since 1997, Interstate Diesel has produced green-tag injectors since 1995, red-tag injectors since 2000 and blue-tag injectors since 2001. The injectors are used worldwide by Class Is, regionals and short lines.

Kim Hotstart Manufacturing Co.

Kim Hotstart Manufacturing Co. offers a line of electric- and diesel-powered engine heating systems designed to allow idling locomotives to be shut down and easily restarted.

In 2007, the company introduced the Junior Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), which builds on Kim Hotstart’s APU experience dating back to 1998, when the firm’s first units were installed at Pend Oreille Valley Railroad, the company said in an email. Compared with the Senior APU, the Junior APU uses a 13- instead of a 27-horsepower diesel engine, has 50 fewer parts and costs 40 percent less, Kim Hotstart said.

Junior APU railroad customers include BNSF, the Butte Anaconda & Pacific, Eastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley, Maumee & Western, Nebraska Northeastern and Vermont Railway. Recent senior model customers include the Arkansas & Missouri, Dakota Missouri Valley & Western, Del Ray Connecting, Montreal Maine & Atlantic, and Nashville & Eastern.

Kim Hotstart also offers electric-powered systems that eliminate mechanical flow switches to reduce maintenance, the company said. Recent railroad customers include NS, Birmingham Rail, Buffalo & Pittsburgh, Cedar Rapids & Iowa City, GO Transit, Idaho Northern, Marquette Rail, Ottawa Central, Utah Railway, VIA Rail and Wisconsin & Southern.

Last month, Kim Hotstart opened its newly expanded facility in Spokane Valley, Wash., which increased from 80,000 to 120,000 square feet.

National Railway Equipment Co.

During a six-year period of market analysis, engineering design, development and testing, National Railway Equipment Co.’s (NREC) N-ViroMotive™ GenSet road switcher has garnered Class I, short line, industrial and transit acceptance as a high-adhesion, low fuel-consuming and ultra-low-emitting locomotive, the company said in an email. NREC offers the switcher to the North American and international four- and six-axle locomotive markets.

The N-ViroMotive already meets the EPA’s Tier 3 locomotive emission regulations that will take effect in 2012. By installing diesel particulate filters in each GenSet, the switcher also will meet Tier 4 regulations — which take effect in January 2015 — for particulate matter (PM), NREC said. The locomotive is designed to reduce NOx and PM emissions up to 80 percent, and cut fuel usage 40 percent to 65 percent compared with a conventional switcher.

During the past three-plus years, the N-ViroMotive has been used by railroads and industrial customers in the United States, Canada, Australia and South America. NREC has delivered or soon will deliver more than 220 units to such customers as BNSF, CP, CSXT, NS, UP, RailAmerica, Pacific Harbor Lines, MBTA and SEPTA.

In addition, NREC has received orders and completed production for several 2,100-horsepower, six-axle N-ViroMotives that will be used for hump-yard switching service and lower-speed branch line applications.

Railpower Technologies Corp.

Railpower Technologies Corp’s Eco-Motive line includes environmentally friendly GenSet locomotives available in four- or six-axle configurations and 700 to 2,800 horsepower.

The modular-designed GenSets can be added, removed or swapped out for batteries per a customer’s needs, Railpower said in an email. The locomotives are designed to reduce emissions up to 80 percent and cut fuel usage up to 60 percent compared with a conventional switcher. Replacement ratios can be as high as one for two, Railpower said.

The GenSets currently meet the EPA’s emission standards through 2014. By 2010’s end, the locomotives will meet the EPA’s Tier 4 standard coming in 2015, Railpower said.

Since the company introduced the GenSets in 2006, the locomotives have been redesigned to improve modularity and serviceability, and further reduce emissions and fuel consumption, Railpower said.

The company markets the GenSets to Class Is, short lines and industrial users, and recently delivered units to the Modesto & Empire Traction Co. and Virginia International Terminal.

Teleflex EcoTrans

Since 2001, Teleflex EcoTrans has offered Auxiliary Power Units (APUs). The company’s PR series of APUs are designed to reduce diesel locomotive idling and cut air emissions.

Last year, Teleflex EcoTrans redesigned the K-9 APU by enhancing the original model with a more efficient diesel motor. The company now offers three different models (PR-30/PR-35/PR-40), which can be adapted to a wide array of locomotive types, Teleflex EcoTrans said in an email.

APUs are designed to shut down the main engine while maintaining battery and fluid temperature levels. Teleflex EcoTrans’ units can reduce fuel consumption up to 79 percent, and cut NOx and hydrocarbon emission rates more than 90 percent, the company said, adding that the APUs can help railroads comply with the EPA’s Tier 0 emission standard.

By adding a satellite-based communication system, the units also can provide real-time location information and collect emission-reduction data.

In addition to serving customers in the United Kingdom, Turkey and Kazakhstan, Teleflex EcoTrans provides APUs to such North American railroads as CSXT, NS, BNSF, the Alaska Railroad, Buffalo & Pittsburgh, Montana Rail Link, Pan Am Railways, RailAmerica and the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

The Timken Co.

In September 2008, The Timken Co. introduced the Timken® EcoTurn™ ultra-low torque labyrinth seal, which currently is available for Class K Timken® AP-2™ rail bearings.

The non-contacting labyrinth seal is designed to minimize frictional forces in the bearing, which, in turn, can reduce emissions released into the atmosphere and cut fuel consumption, Timken said in an email.

The EcoTurn features improved grease retention to help minimize grease weepage and includes no direct contaminant ingress path, reducing the likelihood of debris entering the bearing assembly, the company said. For freight-car owners, the seal can help lower and provide a more consistent bearing operating temperature.

Timken is marketing the seal to major railroads for their freight-car operations. The company now offers railroads an online calculator tool to estimate emission reductions and fuel savings associated with using the EcoTurn seal, which currently is being field tested by several customers, Timken said.

Walker Engineering Enterprises

Marketed by Walker Engineering Enterprises since the 1980s, the Walker AIRSEP® closed crankcase system now is available in several new rail configurations.

The system is designed to process crankcase fume emissions from diesel engines, remove entrained oil, then allow “scrubbed” vapors back to the atmosphere, engine or air filter.

The end result is fewer hydrocarbon emissions, no oil residue or buildup on sensitive equipment, less oil leaked onto the ground and a reduced chance of stack fires, Walker Engineering Enterprises said in an email.

The AIRSEP features a high- efficiency, dual-stage filtration system designed to help railroads reduce “blow-by” or crankcase emissions in their older or electronic diesel engines, the company said.

The AIRSEP now is packaged for use on HoTel or head-in power units, multi-diesels on environmentally friendly switchers, and various rail-engine packages and horsepowers, including Cummins, Caterpillar and Deutz. The newest systems are tailored for compact installations in tight spaces or are available as heavy duty units to accommodate long service intervals, Walker Engineering said.

AIRSEP customers include BNSF, UP, Amtrak, Caltrans and NREC.


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