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Power Drives fuel management system: The PowerHouse

The PowerHouse™ by Power Drives Inc. is “a revolutionary” idle reduction technology built and designed to eliminate engine idling, according to the company. The technology requires significantly less fuel than the idling locomotive, leading to lower costs and increased fuel savings for a rapid return on investment.

Engineered in collaboration with one of the world’s leading diesel locomotive manufacturers, the PowerHouse is designed to heat and circulate water or coolant through the locomotive engine block and cooling system to maintain a temperature of above 100 degrees F, even in the coldest temperatures. The “unique compact design” allows for installation flexibility within the locomotive, Power Drives says.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority conducted a demonstration project on locomotives equipped with the PowerHouse™ APU or 120. Numerous trains were tested for the amount of fuel used by the PowerHouse units during locomotive out-of-service time, compared to the amount of fuel consumed by idling locomotive engines during the same amount of time. The net fuel savings experienced by every train tested numbered in the thousands of gallons.

Available in two models, the PowerHouse 120 model has a 137,000-BTU output and is capable of keeping the locomotive coolant between 90 and 150 degrees. The unit is powered by ordinary household electric current available anywhere. The direct fired diesel burner that is electrically powered, only draws 5 amps.

The PowerHouse APU model is powered by a 9.5-horsepower diesel engine and is a complete standalone system that does not require shore power. It is designed with two modules allowing the engine and heater modules to be mounted up to 15 feet apart thus enabling installation in very tight locations.

The system runs only when needed, maximizing the fuel savings, while minimizing wet-stacking, emissions, noise and engine wear, Power Drives says. In addition, the APU constantly monitors the condition of the battery band and trickle charges the battery when required.

Both units are equipped with remote monitoring so real-time operating data can be accessed from any computer or cell phone, enabling users to track performance and fuel savings.

To learn how freight railroads are reducing fuel consumption, and the products and services they're using to work toward that objective, read this article in the July issue.