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LNG for Locomotives: GE’s NextFuel Retrofit Kit

natural gas industryBrittany Thomas
Coordinator, External Affairs
Cabot Oil & Gas

  

GE Transportation’s NextFuel Retrofit kit will convert locomotives to LNG; helping to reduce emissions and operating costs without compromising performance!

The 2015 Natural Gas Utilization Conference this October was packed full of engaging speakers with many different perspectives and new technologies to present to the crowd. During the Emerging Technologies Panel, Graciela Trillanes, Locomotive Product Manager for GE Transportation shared the science & tech behind the use of LNG for locomotives.

LNG

LNG – A fuel source for our freight

Why is this such a big deal? The Federal Railroad Administration website states that there are 140,000 miles of freight rail in the United States. Some other fun facts about freight rail:

  • Approximately 40% of U.S. freight moves via rail (by length traveled)
  • Approximately 16% of U.S. freight by tons moves by rail
  • Each person in the U.S. requires the movement of approximately 40 tons of freight each year which includes agriculture, automobiles, equipment, metals, paper and minerals, just to name a few.

New opportunities for LNG

We’ve previously discussed opportunities to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) in vehicles including a pilot program in the Pittsburgh area for towboats. Ms. Trillanes was able to provide insight into how LNG could be used in our rail systems, including the five major segments required. Her explanation highlights one of the possible benefits of the towboat pilot program: locating an LNG filling station near the rivers would also put it in close proximity to railroad lines in the area.

Please note, all photos below come directly from her presentation and are property of GE Transportation.

LNG

Obviously there are several factors to determining if LNG is an economical fuel source for locomotives. The reduced cost of LNG compared to diesel is a driving factor, but operators must also include the cost of operations, training, maintenance and securing a gas supply (or building a filling station).

Another consideration is the replacement rate of diesel by LNG. There are several options when it comes to dual fuel technologies available. Ms. Trillanes explained that GE Transportation had decided the port injection method of using the two fuels as detailed in the chart below.

LNG

Next steps

Currently, GE has three different retrofit kit programs based on the engine technology of the locomotives and they estimate continued testing of the technology in North America throughout 2016.

Below is a video from GE Transportation about their NextFuel Natural Gas Retrofit Kit.

Reposted from Well Said Cabot.

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3 thoughts on “LNG for Locomotives: GE’s NextFuel Retrofit Kit

  1. You wish for Carbon Emissions to go down ? Changing over transportation using Diesel to Natural Gas is indeed the most cost effective way. Great to see GE with retrofit kits for some of their new locos . There have been pilot projects with LNG and locos , The pilot project with Canadian National from Edmonton to Fort MacMurray comes to mind. Lets hope railways transporting propant for Fracking start to use Natural Gas like many fracking developers are doing with onsite power needs

  2. GE needs to put acouple solar panels and a wind generater on them so the nimbis and greenies will like them!
    I hope it works out, it would be a big improvment for those of us living near RR tracks!

  3. Also LNG Multiple Unit Trains are an affordable method of establishing Mass Transit (which is usually the darling of the Greenies) systems on existing freight only lines or reactivating dormant ones. Like CNG busses in heavily developed urbanized areas (ex. NYC) have been a catalyst in providing much needed transportation for poor and rich alike, the air quality has improved as the diesel powered ones have been replaced. It’s a win-win-win for transit advocates, environmentalists and sustainable fuel producers.

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