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Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) will be working with Sierra Northern Railway, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and other technical experts to develop and test a zero-emission, hydrogen fuel-cell engine for a switcher.
Creating a fuel-cell engine for a switcher locomotive would potentially eliminate their emissions and provide a much-needed reduction in air pollution from the railroads that serve California's warehouses and ports, officials from the project partners said in a joint news release.
The project was selected for funding by the California Energy Commission, which awarded Sierra Northern Railway and GTI nearly $4 million to fund the design and demonstration of the switcher in Sacramento, California, with the goal of creating a clean alternative to diesel locomotives. SoCalGas is committing another $500,000 to advance the research.
The issue of warehouse-related air pollution received heightened attention earlier this month when air-quality regulators at the South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted a rule to reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions from diesel trucks serving distribution centers. In order to comply with this new rule, warehouses larger than 100,000 square feet can choose to directly reduce emissions from their operations or pay a mitigation fee to fund technologies and projects that reduce air pollution in nearby communities.