OptiFuel Argentina locomotive diagram

ARGENTINA: Ferrocarriles Argentinos Sociedad del Estado and OptiFuel Systems are to plan the repowering of 400 diesel locomotives to run on 100% compressed natural gas and/or renewable natural gas, with the aim of meeting decarbonisation goals.

US low-emissions technology company OptiFuel is developing modular kits for new or repowered locomotives. Equipment for Argentina would be delivered from the USA in kit form, including CNG/RNG engine ‘pods’ in a battery hybrid configuration able to provide between 1 500 and 4 500 hp, along with control modules and onboard CNG/RNG storage tanks.

OptiFuel would also provide powered tender cars rated at 3 000 hp, as well as 12 to 15 CNG fuel stations able to refuel a tender in under 1 h.

Announcing the collaboration agreement on July 12, OptiFuel said it believes RNG and green hydrogen are the most feasible zero-emission solutions for shunting locomotives, with RNG leading on cost and ease of use.

For main line operations in the USA, it sees RNG as the only practical alternative to diesel. RNG requires 2½ times the storage volume of equivalent diesel, while hydrogen requires 11 times the volume and lithium batteries require 50 to 75 times while requiring frequent recharging.

‘OptiFuel is excited about the opportunity to provide zero emission locomotives, tenders and refuelling equipment to Argentina’, said President Scott Myers. ‘OptiFuel developed and certified these technologies for rail because we believe there is a need for cleaner locomotives that drive increasing value to the world’s railroads, railroad customers, and communities.’

Argentina’s Transport Minister Alexis Guerrera said ‘our transportation modernisation plan is about developing more infrastructure throughout the country, and it is also about innovative technology — such as this change in the energy matrix of our trains, to make them cleaner, more efficient, sustainable and cheaper’.