Could this be a Navistar repeat?
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Aug 27, 2012
GE unveils the first Tier 4 heavy-haul Evolution Prototype Locomotive – Cost? If you have to ask, you cannot afford it
Fuel Economy? Between .15 and .3 mpg depending on load and throttle setting as a best guess?
GE Transportation unveiled a prototype of its next Evolution Series Locomotive that will decrease PM and NOx emissions by more than 70 percent and save railroad customers more than $1.5 billion in Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) infrastructure and operational costs. GE expects that the locomotive will be the first in the industry to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stringent 2015 “Tier 4” emission standards, which call for the single-largest emission reduction in the tiered program’s timeline. The new locomotive is said to meet the standard with combustion advancements versus external SCR based ones.
My read of this is very high flow Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), some sort of large lean NOx traps (LNTs) and huge Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs). EGR and LNTs can save on DEF storage tanks and consumption but they usually fall behind on overall costs due to the lower fuel economy aspect of high flow EGR and LNT regeneration operation by comparison.
This new locomotive is part of GE’s ecomagination-qualified Evolution Series Locomotive family – the best-selling global locomotive platform. Today, more than 5,000 Evolution Series Locomotives operate in the U.S. and globally, allowing railroads to move one ton of freight more than 480 miles on a single gallon of fuel. This new engine technology is the result of an initial six-year, $400 million investment with the Tier 2 engines being introduced back in 2009. At that time, they were found to be as little as 6% to as high as 17% more efficient than anything that its main rival EMD was offering.
The Tier I4 emissions program was helped along by a two-year, $200 million investment to hone the R&D and engineering to meet the upcoming Tier 4 standards.
Locomotives and Tier IV
The EPA has previously introduced “Tier 4” emissions standards that require reduction of locomotive emissions to curb the potential environmental effects typically associated with NOx and PM emissions. Scheduled to go into effect in 2015, the EPA will require manufacturers of locomotive diesel engines to lower particulate emissions by 70 percent and NOx by 76 percent compared to engines introduced in 2005.
The most common course and one the trucking industry has embraced wholeheartedly is the use of a DEF or a high concentration of Urea exhaust fluid sprayed into a Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR) housing in which all of the exhaust gases must pass through. This is currently considered the least onerous and most fuel efficient method of reducing NOx to meet the Tier 4 emission standards. SCR would require railroads to add an extensive network of DEF stations across North America and it is not going to be cheap.
In GE’s corner, they are stating their advanced diesel engine combustion research completed for the next generation of the Evolution Series Locomotive will not require DEF and railroad customers will not have to incur the costs related to rail infrastructure upgrades. Consideration for lower fuel economy was not mentioned in the release however.
According to GE Transportation, its plans are to build the Tier 4 Evolution Series Locomotives at one or both of its U.S. locomotive manufacturing sites in Erie, PA and Fort Worth, TX. GE will produce its Tier 4 compliant diesel engines at its manufacturing plant in Grove City, PA.
I sure would love to get into the design center and speak with the GE scientist and engineers about this as they have previously mastered the fuel economy and performance capabilities of these monster workhorses by comparison to their peers. How the scientists and engineers mastered the emissions problem without SCR has me more curious than ever before given the Navistar debacle thanks to their dogged determined not to use SCR and possibly costing them the company in the process.