BNSF Receives $22.6 Million State Grant for Clean Technology Pilot Program

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BNSF Railway may have scrapped its plan for liquid natural gas powered engines, but that doesn’t mean it has given up on lower-polluting technology for a host of railroad applications, including locomotives and railyards.

BNSF and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District were preliminarily awarded a $22.6 million Zero and Near Zero Emission Freight Facilities grant from the California Air Resource Board to pilot several emissions reducing technologies in and around railyards.

BNSF will collaborate with various industry partners to test the feasibility of these technologies.

“BNSF is focused on continuing to reduce our environmental impact, and we’re committed to doing our part to test and prove the commercial viability of emerging technologies that reduce emissions,” said John Lovenburg, vice president, Environmental.

These initiatives will build on BNSF’s existing investments in sustainable technologies including idle control, electric wide-span cranes, electric hostlers, automated gates at its intermodal facilities, and Tier 4 locomotives. As part of the project, BNSF will partner with GE Transportation on a battery-electric locomotive that will be paired with diesel locomotives to power a freight train traveling from Stockton to Barstow.

Transportation will develop an all battery-electric locomotive to validate the technology’s tremendous operational benefits and growth potential in the freight rail industry. The company will design and build an AC Evolution Series locomotive featuring an overall energy-management system, including onboard energy storage, which coupled with advanced system-optimization controls will improve performance. This battery-electric locomotive will generate 2,400 kilowatt-hours of power and could potentially reduce a freight train’s total fuel consumption by at least 10 to 15 percent.

“Battery-powered or hybrid locomotives are promising technologies for the rail industry with the potential to reduce operating costs and emissions,” said Dominique Malenfant, vice president, Global Technology, GE Transportation. “This project will give us tremendous insight into the capabilities of battery power and the best operational methods of leveraging the technology. It will accelerate the development of this cleaner, more efficient solution for the freight rail industry.”

In addition, two hybrid rubber-tire gantry cranes from Mi-Jack will be piloted; one at the Stockton Intermodal Facility and another at the San Bernardino Intermodal Facility. The hybrid cranes, when compared to their diesel counterparts, have the ability to reduce emissions by 70 percent.

A Taylor all-electric side loader will also be piloted at the San Bernardino Intermodal Facility. Finally, BNSF will partner with SH&H, a drayage truck provider, to demonstrate a BYD all-electric drayage truck in San Bernardino.

The equipment will be manufactured in 2019 and deployed in 2020. The grant will cover approximately half the cost of what is estimated to be a $45 million project. The remaining amount will be funded by BNSF and the other corporate partners.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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