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December 07, 2018   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Diesel Plays Well With Others

The Toyota Prius is the iconic image of hybrid technology. Yet there are other much larger hybrids that pair advanced fuel sipping diesel engines with battery storage capabilities to deliver fuel savings and lower emissions for locomotives and ferry boats.


The Toyota Prius is the iconic image of hybrid technology. Yet there are other much larger hybrids that pair advanced fuel sipping diesel engines with battery storage capabilities to deliver fuel savings and lower emissions for locomotives and ferry boats.

Hybrid Locomotive Developed by BNSF Railway and GE

When it comes to moving tons of freight long distances, nothing beats a locomotive and the fuel supping diesel engine is the dominant technology.  Thanks to the diesel platform, one gallon of diesel fuel can move a ton of rail freight one mile. The latest near-zero emissions diesel technology developed to meet stringent EPA Tier 4 emissions standards means all this freight can be delivered while lowering emissions for the communities where they serve.

What if you could pair a system of batteries with advanced technology Tier 4 diesel engines that power a freight train? This is exactly what freight rail giant BNSF Railway is developing and testing currently in partnership with General Electric. A freight train is usually powered by several locomotives. BNSF is replacing the engine in one of these diesel locomotives with a series of batteries, 20,000 to be exact. (By way of reference, the cell phone you hold in your hand is powered by a single battery cell!) The remaining three locomotives are powered by Tier 4 diesel engines. While the project is still in development, BNSF Railway hopes to achieve 15 percent fuel economy by pairing diesel technology with advanced battery storage systems.

Hybrid Ferry Boat Delivered by the Red & White Fleet

Much like the locomotive example above, marine engineers have paired advanced technology diesel engines with battery electric capabilities to power the 600 passenger ferry boat Enhydra that recently entered the Red & White fleet providing service in the San Francisco Bay region. A 410 horsepower advanced technology diesel engine is paired with two banks of lithium ion batteries that provide 160 kilowatt hours of energy.  Enhydra operators may switch from diesel power to battery power or choose to operate on a combination of both.

The operator of the Enhydra also chose to fuel the vessel with renewable diesel fuel. Depending on operations, the use of renewable diesel fuel will help lower greenhouse gas emissions between 30 to 80 percent.

Red & White fleet managers stated that the Enhydra represents the goal of the fleet to operate zero-emissions in the future.  As we learned from the case studies above, it will take a series of technologies and fuels including diesel technology to deliver that promise and still get commuters to and from work and home and deliver America’s freight rail.



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Key Contact

Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy
efinkin@dieselforum.org
301-668-7230

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