Canadian National Railway said
it's fueling two mainline diesel-electric locomotives between Edmonton and Fort McMurray in northern Alberta with natural gas.
Keith Creel, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said “CN launched this locomotive test to explore the use of natural gas as a potential alternative to conventional diesel fuel. This reflects CN's continuing drive to look for ways to improve operating efficiency and advance the company's sustainability agenda.
“Natural gas has a lower carbon content compared with diesel fuel, so that locomotives using natural gas – if the railway technology employing this form of energy ultimately proves viable – would produce significantly fewer carbon dioxide emissions.”
The retrofitted locomotives, using 90 percent natural gas with 10 percent diesel fuel for ignition, are paired with a natural gas fuel tender, or specially equipped and protected tank car, between them.
The gas-powered locomotives are being tested on the 300-mile run north of Edmonton to Fort McMurray, a rail gateway to the oil sands region of northern Alberta. Fueling and maintenance take place in Edmonton.
CN is also working with Caterpillar's Electro-Motive Diesel, Westport Innovations Inc., and Gaz Métro Transport Solutions, on a longer term project to explore a state-of-the-art natural gas railway engine and a standardized railway tender. That group expects to conduct engine laboratory tests in 2013 and to roll out the prototype main-line locomotives for road tests in 2014. - Chris Dupin