EDMONTON, Sept. 27, 2012 - CN (TSX: CNR)
(NYSE: CNI) has announced it is testing two mainline
diesel-electric locomotives fuelled principally by natural gas in
revenue service in northern Alberta.
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
"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."
CN retrofitted the diesel engines in two 3,000-horsepower
Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD, a subsidiary of Progress Rail Services,
a Caterpillar Company (NYSE: CAT)) -- SD40-2 locomotives to run on
natural gas using conversion kits supplied by Energy Conversions
Inc. (ECI) of Tacoma, Wash.
ECI says the hybrid fuel locomotive will reduce carbon dioxide
emissions by 30 per cent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 70 per
cent over a locomotive duty cycle. Click on here to view the locomotive
The retrofitted locomotives, using 90 per cent natural gas, with
10 per cent diesel fuel for ignition, are paired with a natural gas
fuel tender, or specially equipped and protected tank car, between
them. The tender was upgraded by a unit of Chart Industries, Inc.,
(NASDAQ: GTLS), located in New Prague, Minn. Natural gas fueling is
being provided by Encana Corporation (TSX: ECA) (NYSE: ECA).
The natural gas fuelled locomotives
are testing on the 300-mile run north of Edmonton to Fort McMurray,
rail gateway to the oil sands region of northern Alberta. Fueling
and maintenance take place in Edmonton.
CN is also working with EMD, Westport Innovations Inc. (TSX:
WPT) (NASDAQ: WPRT) and Gaz Métro Transport Solutions (GMTS), a
wholly owned subsidiary of Gaz Métro, on a longer term project to
explore a state-of-the-art natural gas railway engine and a
standardized railway tender.
CN will provide two 4,300-horsepower SD70M-2 EMD locomotives for
the test program. EMD, in addition to the engine conversion, will
supply technical expertise to integrate the natural gas engine,
related components and controls into the locomotive, including
Westport™ high-pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology and
natural gas fuel system technologies. GMTS will develop natural gas
liquefaction requirements and distribution systems. An innovative
natural gas tender for this initiative will be jointly developed by
the project partners.
The CN-led group expects to conduct engine laboratory tests in
2013 and to roll out the prototype main-line locomotives for road
tests in 2014.
As part of the project, Westport secured a funding commitment of
C$2.3 million from the Canadian government's Sustainable
Development Technology Canada program to develop the HPDI
technology for high-horsepower applications.
CN leads the North American rail industry in fuel efficiency,
consuming close to 15 per cent less fuel per gross-ton-mile overall
than the industry average. CN's lower fuel consumption results in
significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions.