RailPower Technologies has signed a letter of intent with a North American Class 1 railroad for the sale of 35 of its Green Goat hybrid switch locomotives over a four-year period. This is a bit larger vehicle than we usually discuss, but...how could I resist a name like that?
Switching locomotives (“goats”) are the mainstay of rail yards and really heavy industries. They join, separate and move railcars from track to track as needed, or transfer cars to and from regional carriers. Typically, they use 1,500-2,240 hp diesel engines, travel short distances at low speeds, make frequent stops and idle otherwise. All of this results in a great deal of inefficient fuel consumption, with large amounts of emissions. There are some 10,000 switch locomotives currently active in North America.
The Green Goat hybrid locomotives, by contrast, 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 round trip 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.
RailPower has other hybrid locomotive products in development including a hybrid commuter locomotive. It also has designed and patented, although not yet built, a CNG-fired gas turbine locomotive (Compressed Integrated Natural Gas Locomotive—CINGL) targeted at the mainline freight industry.