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Green Goat Goes to Sea

RailPower Technologies, manufacturer of the Green Goat series hybrid switcher locomotives (earlier post), is licensing its hybrid technologies to Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering for marine applications.

RailPower, through OTB, will distribute its hybrid power systems to tug and barge operating companies, tug and towboat builders and shipyards involved in the construction of a wide range of workboats.

RailPower will supply hybrid and multi-engine systems in kit form and OTB will identify customers looking to retrofit or build new vessels who are interested in the economic and environmental benefits of RailPower’s hybrid systems.

We have identified a significant market niche for RailPower’s hybrid technology. The operational benefits of reduced fuel consumption and maintenance costs of RailPower’s core technology, we believe, will be replicated in marine operations.

A tug is very much a water-borne switcher with similar work profiles that can greatly benefit from RailPower’s hybrid technology. Fuel and maintenance savings are, of course, a major incentive for vessel operators where high fuel usage is standard; however, increasingly port operators are looking for ways to substantially reduce emissions from marine activities.

In addition, an assortment of workboat types, from river switchboats, to research vessels, to small passenger vessels, can benefit greatly from this type of drive system. The retrofit possibilities can also be attractive to owners, allowing them to both save fuel and meet Tier II and III emissions requirements on existing vessels.

—Bob Hill, OTB President

While very happy to find a new market sector, RailPower’s primary focus remains locomotives.

The Green Goat hybrid locomotives generate the tractive equivalent of 2,240 hp by combining a Caterpillar C9 8.8-liter, inline 6-cylinder diesel engine with a large bank of valve-regulated lead-acid batteries. The 600V battery bank, specifically designed by RailPower, is maintenance free, has a long battery life, and high roundtrip efficiency. The added weight of the lead acid bank helps to improve the tractive effort or “pull.” This is a different situation than the auto industry where weight is a major issue.

The diesel generator only operates when the batteries need to be recharged to their optimum levels, so eliminating the idling state. The Green Goat delivers a 40–60% reduction in fuel use and 80–90% reduction in NOx and PM emissions.


Ramon Alonso

So why does a hybrid powertrain reduce fuel consumption for tugboats? Regenerative braking as it goes down a swell? I'm missing something.


Neither the locomotive nor the tugs use regenerative braking as part of the system—the diesel runs only to recharge the batteries, the batteries provide the power to propel the switcher or the boat.

robert hord

where do you stand on ultracapacitors being used by a texas out fit for electric autos. it looks to me like you are going to have to go this route in the future.

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