CATS: Emissions-control apparatus to cut railroad operating costs, improve air

Number 32 in the Clean Air Technologies Series.

The U.S. railroad operating environment is becoming cleaner and greener.

Eleven Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) locomotives that will be based in and work out of Pasco and Spokane, Washington, are receiving emissions-control upgrades.

DSCN4436 (340x255)The BNSF in a news release on Nov. 13, 2014 made the announcement that “BNSF Railway, in partnership with Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) and HOTSTART, is retrofitting 11 locomotives with HOTSTART idle-reduction technology to reduce emissions and conserve fuel in Washington. The pool of locomotives will operate out of the BNSF rail yards in Spokane, Wash. and Pasco, Wash.” The equipment will eliminate an estimated 22-plus-tons of emissions over a six-month period during which time said locomotives will be operating in cold-weather conditions, as pointed out in the release.

It is really no surprise. This is just one more facet of an ongoing railroad-industry trend to improve operations, save fuel and lower emissions and lower costs while increasing productivity, following a similar trend in the transportation sector as a whole.

“‘Minimizing our impact on the planet is a key priority for all of us at BNSF and we are always striving to incorporate new practices and technologies to help us reduce our impact,’ said John Lovenburg, BNSF vice president, Environmental. ‘Through our partnership with HOTSTART and Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, we are able to make continued strides in Washington to further reduce carbon emissions in our operations,’” as cited in the press release.

The incorporation of the HOTSTART Auxiliary Power Units or APUs into the BNSF locomotives in question, will reduce cold-weather idling. The technology allows locomotive prime movers to stay warm when shut down, making the engines themselves restart-ready. Shut-down locomotive engines cut down on “fuel consumption, oil consumption, emissions, noise and engine wear.

“In addition to the APUs, BNSF has installed Automatic Engine Start-Stop systems (AESS) that can be used in conjunction with the APU to shut down the locomotive when not needed. The combination of APUs and AESS can potentially eliminate most locomotive engine idling. Remote data logging systems will be installed onboard each locomotive to monitor and track data for each of the 11 APU systems,” BNSF in the release noted.

Of BNSF’s more than 7,500 locomotives, over 90 percent are equipped with AESS, the Class I (One) freight-railroad company in the release noted, as is true of all new BNSF locomotives.

The above-said emissions-control process provides yet another avenue for helping to keep harmful emissions from entering the air.