BNSF/Wabtec Battery-Electric Road Locomotive

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mtuandrew
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BNSF/Wabtec Battery-Electric Road Locomotive

Post by mtuandrew » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:48 pm

Was not expecting to see this press release:

http://www.bnsf.com/news-media/railtalk ... otive.html
BNSF LEADS THE CHARGE ON TESTING BATTERY-ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE

BNSF and project partners are developing and will soon begin testing a battery-electric high-horsepower road locomotive (the type that moves freight trains from Point A to Point B). BNSF and other railroads have tested low-horsepower battery-electric locomotives in rail yards for years, but mainly for switching freight cars.

...

In 2018, BNSF and Wabtec (formerly GE Transportation) joined forces to begin developing a 100-percent battery-electric road locomotive prototype that works with conventional diesel locomotives to make a battery-electric hybrid consist. (Consist refers to when two or more locomotives are coupled together.) Performance testing of the hybrid is expected to begin in late 2020.
Sounds like it’s based off the ES44AC, but with 50,000 Li-ion batteries replacing the GEVO-12 prime mover. Kind of a road slug but with regenerative braking and power boost.

es80ac
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Re: BNSF/Wabtec Battery-Electric Road Locomotive

Post by es80ac » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:29 pm

Hope this does not mean the railroads will be springing up catenary all over the place in the future. Eletrified railroad certainly destroy the view and ambiance.

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MEC407
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Re: BNSF/Wabtec Battery-Electric Road Locomotive

Post by MEC407 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:57 am

No catenary. The batteries will be recharged by the dynamic brakes.
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mtuandrew
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Re: BNSF/Wabtec Battery-Electric Road Locomotive

Post by mtuandrew » Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:01 am

The whole point of this locomotive seems to be to eliminate the need for catenary. Great news for California on Tehachapi and Cajon Passes, especially if BNSF needs helper sets there. Same for Stevens and Stampede Passes in Washington.

I wonder if they’ll be able to be precharged at the yard, like plug-in hybrids can be charged at home. Even if BNSF is able to get diesel at $2/gallon, that can’t compete with electricity per kilowatt-hour (horsepower-hour.)

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Re: BNSF/Wabtec Battery-Electric Road Locomotive

Post by bostontrainguy » Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:33 am

mtuandrew wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:01 am
The whole point of this locomotive seems to be to eliminate the need for catenary.
Don't really think this is the goal. No one is seriously talking about electrifying major freight routes. It's a battery powered freight locomotive that will supplement road diesels initially and maybe eventually even replace fossil fuel units someday. I'll admit that this idea seemed crazy to me initially but who knows, maybe it will work. I thought CNG was the next logical step.

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Re: BNSF/Wabtec Battery-Electric Road Locomotive

Post by spRocket » Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:19 pm

If it isn't already being considered, it might be worth exploring the possibility of running cables, slug-style, between the battery loco and the diesels in the consist. That way, energy from dynamic brakes over the entire consist could go to the batteries instead of resistor grids (which would still be available if the batteries were fully-charged).
When it's a tie at the railroad crossing, you lose.

mtuandrew
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Re: BNSF/Wabtec Battery-Electric Road Locomotive

Post by mtuandrew » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:23 pm

Yeah, I know no one has seriously considered catenary since the Powder River Extension, otherwise the BM&LP would have had many more copycat heavy-haul coal roads over the years. The only place I could feasibly see catenary having been seriously considered is California, and then for primarily regulatory reasons. (It would save money in the very long run, but not for many decades and not without governmental assistance.)

I don’t know if CNG/LNG is dead, but it seems like a pipe dream to me. Despite being dirt-cheap and readily available along every major Class 1 road, CNG is a low-density fuel and LNG requires specialized facilities. If I were in charge of motive power at one of those roads, I’d be taking a page from Elon Musk and skipping straight to battery storage technology too, even knowing it’ll take a decade to come to fruition. In states and localities with higher emissions standards* I’d use my expanding Tier 4 and Tier 3+ rebuild fleet as battery slug tenders until I had practical battery-electrics and charging facilities available; I wouldn’t concentrate on LNG since the shops don’t have service facilities for it.

If we are talking renewable energy initiatives rather than emissions or fuel savings, I’d concentrate on soy and biomass-based biodiesel. Soy in particular is dirt-cheap and rotting in farm fields with the trade war, and produces a fairly low-emissions fuel besides. It’s a high-density fuel comparable to regular diesel, and one that requires no new facilities and practically no equipment modifications.

* in addition to various other environmental harms, the current administration is attempting to Federalize all emissions standards and keep California (et al) from independently setting its own stricter standards. That might change railroads’ strategies in the LA Basin for instance.
Last edited by MEC407 on Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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