The Anonymous Widower

OptiFuel Systems Announces Natural Gas Freight Locomotive

The title of this post is the same as that as this article on Railway Gazette International.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rail, marine and generator product supplier OptiFuel Systems has announced that it is ready to manufacture freight locomotives of 1 200 to 2 400 hp fuelled by biomethane and natural gas.

Other points from the article.

  • They are modifying a rail-certified Cummins engine, which has already been used in 12,000 trucks.
  • They are using a modular design, so different power outputs can be provided.
  • It appears they will provide kits to convert existing locomotives.
  • They have a US government grant to build a 4,400 hp or 3.3 MW main line locomotive that can run on renewable natural gas.

This is a quote from OptiFuel President; Scott Myers.

We think that in the next two years there will be a 50-state Low Carbon Fuel Standard programme that includes rail and an extension of the existing federal Alternative Fuel Credit program to include rail. These programmes, just as in trucking and aviation, will provide renewable natural gas to the railroads at a near zero cost and providing them the financial incentive to decarbonise their fleets over the next 15 years.

President Trump was not available for comment.

Renewable Natural Gas

This sounded to me, like the ultimate in greenwashing, when I saw it in this article. The Wikipedia entry for renewable natural gas defines it like this.

Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), also known as Sustainable Natural Gas (SNG) or Biomethane, is a biogas which has been upgraded to a quality similar to fossil natural gas and having a methane concentration of 90% or greater.

Wikipedia also says this about the creation of renewable natural gas.

The UK National Grid believes that at least 15% of all gas consumed could be made from matter such as sewage, food waste such as food thrown away by supermarkets and restaurants and organic waste created by businesses such as breweries. In the United States, analysis conducted in 2011 by the Gas Technology Institute determined that renewable gas from waste biomass including agricultural waste has the potential to add up to 2.5 quadrillion Btu annually, being enough to meet the natural gas needs of 50% of American homes.

In combination with power-to-gas, whereby the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide fraction of biogas are converted to methane using electrolyzed hydrogen, the renewable gas potential of raw biogas is approximately doubled.

Because of the carbon in the gas and its source, it would appear that it is net zero carbon, rather than the zero carbon of hydrogen. But it does appear, that it would be cheaper to produce than hydrogen.


The United States seems to be researching a route, that will allow them to decarbonise their rail-freight industry.

Application To The United Kingdom

Shown is a Class 66 locomotive.

They are a mainstay of freight in the UK, that are powered by a 3,300 hp diesel engine.

Unfortunately, they are not the most neighbourly of locomotives, which throw out quantities of various pollutants.

Could OptiFuel Systems supply a solution for these locomotives?

December 24, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,


  1. The challenge now is surely methane capture from cows!

    Comment by Stephen Spark | December 26, 2020 | Reply

    • Manure, waste food and other organic waste can probably produce it more easily.

      I do at last think, that the US is taking carbon emissions seriously and in many reports the C-word is mentioned – Cummins.

      Cummins seem to have had a conversion to hydrogen and I suspect, they’ve done a calculation and found, that a lot of their revenue is at risk.

      If you can’t best them, then join them. Or take them on at their own game!

      Comment by AnonW | December 26, 2020 | Reply

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