BNSF, Caterpillar, Inc. and Chevron USA, Inc. have teamed up on a locomotive pilot to “confirm the feasibility and performance of hydrogen fuel for use as a viable alternative to traditional fuels for line rail transportation.”
The companies, which made the announcement on Dec. 14, signed a memorandum of understanding for the project.
Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, will design and build a prototype hydrogen fuel cell locomotive for line transportation and / or other rail services; Chevron will develop the refueling concept and infrastructure; and BNSF will make its lines available for prototype testing.
“The proposed demonstration project is subject to negotiation of definitive agreements with customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval,” the companies said. “If established, further details of the demonstration of the hydrogen locomotive, including where the initial pilot will take place and its schedule, will be released at a later date.”
The partnership follows a report from Caterpillar and Chevron on September 9 that they would jointly develop hydrogen demonstration projects in transportation and stationary power applications.
“BNSF is delighted to work with Chevron and Progress Rail to drive locomotives powered by hydrogen fuel cells,” said BNSF vice president of environment John Lovenbourg. “This technology could one day be a low carbon solution for the online transportation service, as it has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and remain cost competitive.”
“Working with Chevron and BNSF will allow us to advance hydrogen technology throughout the industry,” said Joe Creed, Caterpillar Group President, Energy and Transportation.
“Our work with Progress Rail and BNSF is an important step towards advancing new use cases of hydrogen in heavy transportation, as we seek to create a commercially viable hydrogen economy,” said Jeff Gustavson, president of Chevron New Energies.
The BNSF also tested locomotives powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas) and battery electric.
In further developments, Union Pacific’s EMD 710 and 645 series locomotives can now operate with a higher biodiesel fuel blend content. The Class I railroad reported on August 19 that Progress Rail had approved the use of a biodiesel blend of up to 20% in its units. Previously, the EMD 710 and 645 were approved to operate at 5%.
Here is more Age of the railway articles on alternative technology locomotives:
PHL will test Progress Rail EMD® Joule
Southern Railway of BC Goes Green with Switch Modernization
Wabtec, GM team on new locomotive power systems
Sera will build a hydrogen switch
BNSF / Wabtec BEL pilot: the results are known and the BNSF / Wabtec BEL pilot in progress
Zero-emission locomotives on US railroads?
Fuel cells and batteries: the future of mobility?
The “H” factor
CP is embarking on a hydrogen locomotive pilot project (with more info here: Railway of the Year 2021: Keith Creel, Canadian Pacific; CP Hydrogen Locomotive Pilot Powered by Ballard; First Look: Locomotive at CP’s zero hydrogen emissions; and CP: Green ‘Gas’ n Go’ Gets Grant.
Hydrogen Strategy for Canada’s Railways
OptiFuel producing natural gas switches
Cummins QSK95 for Freight
Clean Diesel, Hydrogen and Future Options for Cummins Rail – RAIL GROUP ON AIR
New from Cummins: QST30 repowering module