BNSF Railway, Wabtec conducting pilot on impact of Biofuels in Locomotives

March 11, 2022
Testing will begin in the second quarter on Wabtec Tier 3 and Tier 4 Evolution Series locomotives in California. The locomotives will be operated between Barstow and Los Angeles

Freight railroad BNSF Railway and Wabtec have partnered on a new biofuel project to quantify the impact of the use of biodiesel (B20) and renewable diesel (R55) on the durability, emissions and performance of Wabtec locomotives.

Testing will begin in the second quarter on Wabtec Tier 3 and Tier 4 Evolution Series locomotives in California. The locomotives will be operated between Barstow and Los Angeles.

“The rail industry is intently focused on reducing its environmental footprint by exploring emerging technologies,” said Bob Bremmer, Group Vice President for Wabtec’s Fleet Innovation and Transformation division. “Biofuels provide a unique near-term opportunity to have a significant impact on reducing carbon intensity.”

Wabtec has already approved the use of a 5% biodiesel (B5) and a 30% renewable diesel (R30) blend for its locomotive engines. These are in use in approximately 11,000 of its Evolutions Series engines today.

The Pittsburgh-based company also is deep into production of battery-electric locomotives, having entered into deals with industrial partners such as miner Rio Tinto and BHP Western Australia. Biofuels also are envisioned as a energy alternative with net carbon reduction potential.

“BNSF is pleased to partner with Wabtec to test higher percentage blends of biodiesel and renewable diesel,” said John Lovenburg, Vice President, Environment & Sustainability. “

In the pilot, BNSF used Wabtec battery-electric locomotives between Barstow and Stockton that showed an 11% decline in fuel consumption and GHG emissions as compared to standard diesel units.