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Union Pacific Tests Exhaust Catalyst on Locomotives

Union Pacific is beginning a year-long field test in the Los Angeles area of the rail industry’s first long-haul diesel electric locomotive modified with after market experimental technology aimed at reducing exhaust emissions.

An experimental oxidation catalyst filtering canister, or oxicat, was installed inside the diesel engine’s exhaust manifold. The special catalytic material chemically reduces the amount of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter generated by the diesel engine, much like a catalytic converter on today’s cars and trucks.

The diesel engine has been outfitted with various sensors that can be remotely monitored by GPS. Remote real-time motoring capabilities help researchers evaluate how the experimental oxidation catalyst is functioning. Its emissions performance and the maintenance requirements for the locomotive will be assessed at the end of the one-year test period.

The EPA’s National Vehicle Fuels and Emissions Laboratory is funding most of the oxidation catalyst test.

The locomotive was subjected to EPA locomotive standards testing before and after the oxidation catalyst was installed, using standard EPA locomotive certification fuel and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel that UP is now using for intrastate locomotives in California.

The standing, or static, test results were:

  • Using ULSD fuel without the oxidation catalyst installed dropped particulate emissions by about four percent compared to the use of standard EPA diesel fuel.
  • Using ULSD fuel with the oxidation catalyst installed reduced particulate emissions by approximately 50 percent, unburned hydrocarbons by 38 percent and carbon monoxide by 82 percent.

During this initial testing, the 17-year-old locomotive met the latest EPA Tier 2 new locomotive requirements for particulate matter. The EPA’s Tier 2 requirements are for new locomotives manufactured since January 1, 2005.

Union Pacific has also begun a year-long field test in Oakland of the North America rail industry’s first experimental after-market exhaust system filter to determine if it will reduce diesel engine emissions in older locomotives used in rail yards.

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