The Anonymous Widower

Dual-Fuel Class 37 And 66 Locomotive Concepts Unveiled

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

This is the first paragraph.

G-volution and SBL-Rail have produced design concepts for dual-fuel versions of Class 37 and 66 locomotives, which would be able to run on diesel with biomethane, biopropane or hydrogen.

Note.

  1. There are about sixty Class 37 locomotives in service or stored.
  2. 480 Class 66 locomotives were originally produced and over 300 must still be in service.
  3. Both locomotives have electric transmissions.
  4. G-volution are developing a dual-fuel Class 180 train, that I wrote about in Grand Central DMU To Be Used For Dual-Fuel Trial.
  5. Two of the design concepts involve replacing the current diesel engines with modern Cummins engines, that meet current emission regulations.
  6. Fuel savings of ten percent are mentioned for one engine conversion.

This is said about the dual-fuel conversions.

Biomethane and biopropane dual fuel engines would offer significant carbon and cost savings verses diesel. Hydrogen has the potential to do so if produced from renewable sources, but would need to be ‘much cheaper’ than it is today.

The article then gives a table, which shows the various savings.

The article comes to these conclusions.

  • Biomethane and biopropane prices are expected to fall, as production increases.
  • Green hydrogen is too expensive, but costs will come down.
  • More rises in the price of diesel, will tilt costs towards alternative fuels.

I feel that to get the emissions and costs down, there would need to be a bit of cheating.

Look at this picture of a Class 66 locomotive under 25 KVAC electrification.

I wonder, if a pantograph and all the electrical gubbins could be fitted to a Class 66 locomotive to create a genuine electro-diesel locomotive.

  • It would use electrification, where it exists.
  • It would use the existing electric transmission.
  • I do suspect though that the Class 37 locomotive may be more difficult to convert because of its age.

It should be noted that in GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I talk about how GB Railfreight are proposing to purchase a fleet of new electro-diesel freight locomotives, that appears will have Class 66 locomotive performance on both electrification and diesel.

The Involvement Of Cummins

Cummins, who are one of the world’s largest manufacturers of diesel engines, could have a lot to lose from the move to zero-carbon.

  • But they have adopted an if-you-can’t-them-join-them philosophy to hydrogen.
  • They have bought up hydrogen companies like Hydrogenics.
  • They are developing internal combustion engines that can run on hydrogen.
  • Cummins have claimed to me, that they will try to fill any niche market with their engines, so it would be likely, they would apply that philosohy to hydrogen.

I believe that Cummins will not give up their market share without a fight.

I would expect, Cummins will actively support G-volution’s plans, if it would sell upwards of fifty large engines.

Conclusion

I have four main conclusions.

  • I believe that this study could lead to a very significant and worthwhile updating of a Class 66 locomotive.
  • The locomotive would need to be modified so it could use electrification.
  • But I am more dubious, that this could be done with the Class 37 locomotive.
  • I also believe that Cummins will be part of the solution.

In the wider world, I also believe that to retain their turnover and market share, Cummins and the other big diesel engine manufacturers will come up with increasingly innovative solutions.

Caterpillar, Cummins, Deutz, JCB, MTU and others will not give up multi-billion businesses without a fight.

March 30, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments