Ricardo helps Canadian National railroad assess viability of natural gas traction; locomotive testing underway
11 March 2013
Canadian National (CN), one of North America’s seven Class 1 railroads, is investigating the practical implications and benefits of using natural gas as a locomotive fuel. To support Canadian National’s research project, Ricardo management consultants and engineers provided support by reviewing engineering options and the impacts of using gas, most importantly identifying any “Red Flag” issues which could affect viability.
|CN’s natural gas locomotives and tender. Click to enlarge.|
A fueling infrastructure would need to be constructed, operated and maintained in addition to the adaptation of locomotives for dual fuel operation; the ability to revert to diesel fuel is essential for operational flexibility.
Ricardo assessed and evaluated both the currently available engine conversion technologies as well as those known to be in the development pipeline. The company also examined the available technologies for gas storage and distribution, including the development of recommendations for the configuration of a necessary gas tender car required to supply fuel to the locomotive.
Through the work carried out by Ricardo, it was thus possible to provide a picture of the most significant commercial impacts of operating railway locomotives on natural gas. Canadian National has commenced testing of two Electro-Motive Diesel locomotives converted for operation on natural gas.
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