The 2015 Natural Gas Utilization Conference this October was packed full of engaging speakers with many different perspectives and new technologies to present to the crowd. During the Emerging Technologies Panel, Graciela Trillanes, Locomotive Product Manager for GE Transportation shared the science & tech behind the use of LNG for locomotives.
LNG – A fuel source for our freight
New opportunities for LNG
We’ve previously discussed opportunities to use liquified natural gas (LNG) in vehicles including a pilot program in the Pittsburgh area for towboats. Ms. Trillanes was able to provide insight into how LNG could be used in our rail systems, including the five major segments required. Her explanation highlights one of the possible benefits of the towboat pilot program: locating an LNG filling station near the rivers would also put it in close proximity to railroad lines in the area.
Please note, all photos below come directly from her presentation and are property of GE Transportation.
Obviously there are several factors to determining if LNG is an economical fuel source for locomotives. The reduced cost of LNG compared to diesel is a driving factor, but operators must also include the cost of operations, training, maintenance and securing a gas supply (or building a filling station).
Another consideration is the replacement rate of diesel by LNG. There are several options when it comes to dual fuel technologies available. Ms. Trillanes explained that GE Transportation had decided the port injection method of using the two fuels as detailed in the chart below.
Currently, GE has three different retrofit kit programs based on the engine technology of the locomotives and they estimate continued testing of the technology in North America throughout 2016.