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Hybrid shunter lowers costs and emissions

01 Nov 2001

RAILPOWER Technologies Corp demonstrated its first 'Green Goat' hybrid microturbine/battery electric shunting locomotive in New Westminster, British Columbia, on September 5. The 130 tonne loco offers a 50% to 90% reduction in nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions and up to a 35% reduction in fuel consumption compared with conventional shunters.

Green Goat has a small 100hp diesel-fuelled microturbine generator, used to charge 30 lead-acid 20V electrical cells. Power from the battery is then used to drive the traction motors, giving a top speed of 48 km/h.

Unlike conventional shunters, where the engine is generally left running even when idle, the turbine only operates when the battery requires topping up. As a result, the turbine always operates at a constant load, maximising efficiency. It automatically shuts down when the battery is fully charged, extending its life. The microturbine runs on normal diesel fuel, so the loco can use standard fuelling points. It is quiet in operation, making it particularly suited to urban areas.

Design work for Green Goat began in March 2000. The demonstrator loco is built on remanufactured GP9 frames, with new parts. It has a low body profile, as it does not need to house a conventional diesel engine. The loco's expected life span is 20 years, with a battery change after 10 years. Green Goat can work in multiple with any other loco.

The locos are priced at US$1m to purchase, but RailPower will also offer the loco as a leasing deal, with the supplier carrying out maintenance and repairs.

The initial assembly will be subcontracted, and the company hopes to sell up to 50 locos a year. A larger version for suburban passenger services is under consideration, and a cabless version for remote control operation is planned.

The demonstrator loco is to undergo trials with two North American Class I railways.

RailPower Technologies Corp, Canada

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CAPTION: The Green Goat turbine/battery electric locomotive has a low body profile, as it does not have to house a tall diesel engine