Freightliner Class 66

UK: A project to reduce the emissions from an EMD Class 66 freight locomotive by converting it to run on a combination of diesel, biogas and hydrogen has been awarded government funding.

The nine-month project which has been awarded £398 000 from the Department for Transport’s First of a Kind innovation competition will see Freightliner and Clean Air Power retrofit a Class 66 with precision injection technology enabling it to use a combination of diesel, biogas and hydrogen. Clean Air Power said the equipment was widely used in the road sector, but this would be the first application on such a significant class of diesel locomotive, which hauls more than 80% of freight on the UK network.

Freightliner Class 66

The project is being supported by Network Rail, Tarmac, the Rail Safety & Standards Board, gas supplier Flogas, consultancy Carrickarory and the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research & Education.

Modification of the locomotive, static testing and emissions data collection will be carried out at Freightliner’s depot in Leeds.

Emissions testing will be conducted in consultation with RSSB and Carrickarory to understand both the baseline conditions and the impact of dual-fuelling for both hydrogen and biogas, with the data made available to RSSB.

‘We’re delighted to be awarded this financial backing and are now focused on delivering a fully functioning low-carbon, low-emission, hydrogen-friendly Class 66 locomotive’, said Dan Skelton, Managing Director of Melton Mowbray-based Clean Air Power, on July 2.

Freightliner Class 66

Freightliner noted that the Class 66 was ‘one of the industry’s most challenging two-stroke locomotives’, but Skelton believed that ‘our solution offers a route to viable, long-term decarbonisation and its associated cost benefits, which will be practical to implement and scale. We have successfully worked alongside the likes of Volvo, Mercedes, DHL, Caterpillar and Perkins previously, and are looking forward to transferring our know-how and expertise to this new and exciting market.’

Freightliner said the aim of the project was to decarbonise diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that did not require significant short-term investment or operational learning. This would support a longer-term fleet replacement programme, potentially using 100% hydrogen fuel.

‘As the largest freight operator of electric traction, we already have a number of environmentally motivated initiatives underway and are delighted to be working with Clean Air Power and other partners’, said Freightliner UK Rail Managing Director Tim Shakerley. ‘With decarbonisation high on the agenda, these initiatives will further support the government’s pledge to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.’