Argentina: OptiFuel gives details on deal to switch 400 locomotives to (renewable) natural gas

Argentina: OptiFuel gives details on deal to switch 400 locomotives to (renewable) natural gas

OptiFuel Systems, a decarbonization solutions provider of products and systems for eliminating emissions in the rail, marine, and power generation markets, announced a collaboration agreement with the Argentina Ministry of Transportation through Ferrocarriles Argentinos Sociedad del Estado (F.A.S.E). The objective of this agreement is to develop a project to repower and put into service 400 switcher and line haul freight locomotives, all 100% powered by CNG and/or renewable natural gas with low or zero emissions, in line with the Argentina’s decarbonization goals.

Argentina has prioritized government and public investment to grow the share of freight shipped by rail throughout the country. Over the next 10 years, they plan to modernize and decarbonize their entire 40,000-mile rail network, becoming the first country in the world with a complete railroad network operating with zero emissions.

“OptiFuel is excited about the opportunity to provide zero emission locomotives, tenders, and refueling equipment to Argentina,” said Scott Myers, President of OptiFuel. “OptiFuel developed and certified these technologies for rail because we believe there is a need for cleaner locomotives that drive increasing value to the world’s railroads, railroad customers, and communities.”

Traditional locomotives run on diesel fuel, emitting high levels of NOx, PM, and CO2. OptiFuel’s zero emission rail engine solutions are powered by their U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified locomotive CNG engine rated at 0.00 g/bhp-hr for NOx, 0.000 g/bhp-hr for PM, and negative CO2 using biomethane.

OptiFuel is developing modular repower kits for diesel locomotives and new locomotives in all lengths, horsepower levels, and track gauges. For Argentina, OptiFuel will build locomotive kits in the U.S. that will be shipped for local assembly in Argentina, creating new jobs and enhancing business in both countries.

These kits will include OptiFuel’s zero emission CNG/biomethane engines pods in a hybrid configuration (1500hp – 4500hp); locomotive control modules; and onboard CNG/biomethane storage pods that can carry up to 2,000 diesel gallon equivalents (DGEs) of natural gas. OptiFuel will also provide powered tender cars (3,000 hp) that can carry 11,500 DGEs of CNG/biomethane and construct an estimated 12-15 CNG stations along Argentina’s rail network, each with the capacity to refuel a tender car in less than an hour.

“We didn’t look at one railroad or even one country,” added Myers. “We stepped back even further and asked: How can we affordably integrate new technology and required infrastructure into the world’s massive railroad networks in a way that is gradual, flexible, reliable, and affordable? The first challenge was incorporating modern technology without sacrificing reliability. The second challenge was engineering flexibility into the system – railroads had different performance needs and access to different sources of power. Then there was the challenge of new technology. The average locomotive operates for more than 40 years! If we were going to begin adding the latest technology, we had to do it in a way in which updates and upgrades could be made efficiently and cost effectively. This led us to OptiFuel’s modular, affordable designs.”

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