GE is building a battery-electric locomotive for BSNF Railway Company to explore how to improve energy efficiency and lower fuel costs.
Fuel costs are typically the largest cost for railroad companies.
The battery-electric locomotive will be paired with a traditional diesel-electric locomotive, not shown in the illustration.
Electric power from the batteries and/or the diesel-electric generator on the traditional diesel-electric locomotive provide the electricity for the traction motors located in trucks under the platforms of the two locomotives. The traction motors drive the train.
As shown in the illustration, the batteries, in blue, replace the diesel-electric generator.
There are computer-based controls that allow the integration of the power from the diesel-electric locomotive with the power from the batteries on the battery-electric locomotive. The combined pair of locomotives can use the power from the batteries and/or the diesel-electric locomotive to drive the train, and also allow for the diesel-electric locomotive to recharge the batteries on the battery-electric locomotive.
The computer controls can draw power from the diesel-electric locomotive or from the batteries in any combination that best utilizes the batteries to reduce fuel consumption. On a long straightaway, the batteries may provide most of the power, while going up inclines the diesel generator may provide most of the power.
As a pair, they provide the most efficient use of the available power. By itself, the battery-electric locomotive should be able to provide full power for 30 minutes on a single charge.
In some ways, this is similar to the units we built in the Cleveland plant some time ago.
These units, referred to as “motor trailers”, were built from old diesel-electric locomotives, where the diesel generator was removed and replaced with scrap metal to provide the necessary weight.
New traction motors were installed in the trucks under the platform and were linked, electrically, to the diesel-generator on the traditional diesel-electric locomotive with which the “motor trailer” was connected. These additional traction motors provided extra power to supplement the power provided by the traditional diesel-electric locomotive with which the “motor trailer” was coupled.
The “motor trailer” was an inexpensive way to improve fuel economy or provide extra power for trains operating in hilly terrain.
The new battery-electric locomotives have the potential to improve fuel costs and minimize emissions when operating in yards located in urban areas.
The initial trial units will determine whether they provide the anticipated benefits.
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