Image: Freightliner

Freightliner, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W), has been successful in gaining government financing to develop a dual-fuel solution for the Class 66 locomotive in collaboration with a consortium of specialist suppliers.

The technology is one of the 30 finalists in the latest round of the Transport Secretary’s First of a Kind (FOAK) competition. Already the safest and most environmentally friendly means of ground freight transportation, the competition sought to make railways even cleaner, greener, and more passenger-friendly.

This is the first time that this extensively utilized technology in the road industry will be used to the rail freight sector on such a significant and widely used class of locomotive. The work will begin on 1 July and will last nine months.

Freightliner, which operates over 113 Class-66s in the United Kingdom, and Clean Air Power, a developer of innovative clean air solutions for freight, are the project’s lead partners. Additionally, Network Rail, Tarmac, the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB), Flogas, Carrickarory, and the University of Birmingham are supporting the initiative.

The study will examine the feasibility of replacing diesel with hydrogen and biogas on the Class-66 locomotive that hauls over 80% of freight on the UK rail network, thereby reducing carbon emissions on one of the industry’s most difficult two-stroke locomotives. This will be accomplished by upgrading the Class 66 with Clean Air Power’s precision injection technology, resulting in a Class 66 capable of running on a mix of diesel, biogas, and hydrogen.

This sustainable solution will enable freight operating companies to decarbonize their diesel fleets in a cost-effective manner that does not require significant short-term investment and enables operational learning in support of a longer-term fleet replacement program that may use 100 percent hydrogen fuel.

Exhaust emissions will be measured in accordance with the most recent RSSB guidance in order to ascertain both baseline circumstances and the effect of dual-fueling with hydrogen and biogas. The project’s primary result will be emissions and substitution data, which will be made available to the RSSB.

All locomotive work, static testing, and data gathering on emissions will take place at Freightliner’s vehicle maintenance facility in Leeds, with help from Carrickarory Consultancy and in cooperation with the RSSB.

“Freightliner is excited to be a key partner in this pioneering decarbonisation project,” said Freightliner UK Rail Managing Director Tim Shakerley.  “As the largest freight operator of electric traction, we already have a number of environmentally motivated initiatives underway and are delighted to be working with Clean Air Power and other partners on this additional government-funded project.  With decarbonisation high on the agenda, these initiatives will further support the government’s pledge to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

Dan Skelton, Managing Director of Clean Air Power, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Freightliner and other partners on this project. All parties are focussed on delivering a fully functioning low-carbon, low-emission, hydrogen-friendly Class 66 locomotive.“Our solution offers a route to viable, long-term decarbonisation and its associated cost benefits, which will be practical to implement and scale. With the know-how and expertise, we share, we’re looking forward to this new and exciting initiative making a real difference.”

Nedim Husomanovic

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