What Makes This Blue Train So Green?

While transport by train is more efficient than by car or truck, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, especially in locomotives used for hauling and shipping of all manner of goods throughout the U.S. Emission reduction is still a challenge for this mode of travel, but General Electric Transportation has made a great stride in overcoming that challenge with its latest locomotive. How did this innovation in efficiency come about?

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Image Source: Popular Science

The Deadline Has Arrived
Just over a decade ago, the EPA stated that train engines would need to emit 70% fewer particulate emissions and 76% fewer nitrogen oxide emissions by the year 2015. These eco-standards are referred to as Tier 4, and the deadline to meet them has arrived.  While the new criteria were demanding, the response has arrived in the form of one very efficient locomotive.

Developing The Train Of The 21st Century
Developed by GE Transportation, the Evolution Series Locomotive has been designed to be the train of the 21st century.  In the 11 years since the EPA announced the emissions restrictions, GE began engineering and testing the technology that may change how massive engines and power trains are built.

The company recently announced the completion of its first production tests and successful compliance with the EPA’s Tier 4 standards. So how did they manage to significantly cut emissions and still ensure their new locomotive can run at high speed, haul heavy loads, and perform as conventional trains do?

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Image Source: Gizmodo Australia

Recirculating Exhaust And Reducing Emissions
Rather than using a filtering system to control the emission of particles and nitrogen oxide, the Evolution Series Locomotive’s new and improved engine recirculates exhaust, which halts the production of nitrogen oxide. The train’s updated fuel delivery system is what allows for the reduction of soot emissions. These changes also eliminate the need for any after-treatment.

Exceptional Engineering And Extensive Testing
GE has also incorporated software based technology which can automatically adjust the way the train runs and maintain low emissions based on a number of factors, including speed, hauling requirements, and altitude. The success of GE’s new prototype is the result of an extensive testing process, which was carried out and recently competed at the Transportation Technology Center of Pueblo, Colorado. Additionally testing, focused on the engine’s performance, emissions, and mechanics have been completed at GE’s new test cell located in Grove City, PA.

Investing In An Engine Revolution?
As the new trains are expected to roll out throughout the United States later this year, specifically for freight transport, GE may determine if their $600 million investment has been worthwhile. Will this new engine platform revolutionize the way we engineer massive engines for power trains, construction equipment, and more? Share your thoughts on the Evolution Series Locomotive development in the comments.

Article Sources: 
http://www.progressiverailroading.com
http://www.popsci.com
http://finance.yahoo.com

Camryn Shea
 

Is a longtime business consultant and a writer who loves to read about the Maker Movement that’s been made possible through technology. In her free time, she enjoys antiquing and touring vineyards.

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