OptiFuel Systems, a packager and integrator of Cummins hybrid power products, has partnered with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) to apply for a U.S. DOE program grant to demonstrate a Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) hybrid 4,300 hp line-haul locomotive. The purpose of the program is to demonstrate that a suite of commercially available products can be used to create an affordable natural gas hybrid line-haul locomotive that will exceed proposed Tier 5 emissions and improve fuel cost by 50%. This program will validate that OptiFuel’s low-risk, affordable technology can also be applied in the higher horsepower line-haul locomotive market. OptiFuel is already taking orders for zero NOx/PM emission locomotives up to 3,200 hp that also have carbon-neutral emissions using RNG.

This demonstration will include a comprehensive natural gas hybrid propulsion package featuring four zero emission, 100% natural gas engines – the OptiFuel KOFSG11.9400 (“OFS12”) and a single Cummins Tier 4, EPA rail certified, diesel-powered QSK60 in a hybrid configuration. Our design also includes a 100% battery-electric mode. OptiFuel’s OFS12 engine is EPA rail certified with emissions of 0.00 g/bhp-hr for both NOx and PM, and is capable of running on either CNG, RNG, LNG, or a CNG-RNG blend. The OFS12 engine, which is identical to the Cummins ISX12N for on-road applications, is the cleanest rail engine currently certified by EPA.

The RNG hybrid locomotive will consume 83% natural gas and will have 20% improved efficiency over Tier 4 diesel line-haul locomotives. The locomotive will be market competitive in pricing and will have an industry-leading 5-year warranty on all engines along with a comprehensive maintenance coverage program. The propulsion system design is compact enough to fit on virtually any legacy EMD or GE line-haul locomotive with no structural modifications to the operator cab or frame. OptiFuel will also provide the CNG fueling solution, and will utilize its proprietary; Federal Railway Administration approved onboard CNG/RNG storage system to complete the locomotive design.

In 2018, Class I, II, and III railroads purchased 4.7 billion gallons of diesel fuel for the 39,000 locomotives used for freight operations in the US. The US locomotive fleet has average NOx emissions of 8 g/bhp-hr and fine Particulate Matter (PM) emissions of 0.22 g/bhp-hr. In comparison, OptiFuel’s 4,300 RNG hybrid line-haul locomotive is expected to emit 0.04 g/bhp-hr of NOx, a reduction of 200 times, and emit 0.00 g/bhp-hr of PM. Using RNG as the fuel, OptiFuel’s locomotive will dramatically lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting in a neutral or negative carbon footprint, in addition to far exceeding California’s Tier 5 locomotive petition standards to U.S. EPA.