Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive Tackles Gruelling Terrain
General Electric (GE) and Caterpillar have both been working on building train engines that pollute less in order to stay on the right side of regulations set by the EPA. They are but two of the several large players in the market that are seeking to radically change the way locomotive engines use carbon fuels. While pound for pound trains are less polluting than some other forms of freight transport, they still produce quite an amount of particulate emissions and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions which are bad for the environment and our health. Regulations set by the EPA back in 2004 now require locomotives that power trains to reduce the amount of particulate emissions by 70 percent and NOx by 76 percent. GE is further down the line than Caterpillar with its Evolution Series Tier 4 locomotive which has already begun rigorous testing in the US, including a grueling series of inclines and tunnels in Colorado, US nicknamed the Big Hole.
Some of the testing took place at the high-altitude testing circuit near Pueblo, Colorado (elevation 5,000 feet, 1500 metres). At this height the testing team can really put the engine through its paces. Michael Anderson, one of the trains builders at GE Transportation said, “We can do some unique things and simulate high-speed, heavy haul and other conditions. When you get to higher altitude, you have less oxygen and more particulate matter. But these new locomotives use software that can automatically adjust the mix and maintain low emissions.” The GE team is also engaged in testing and perfecting various software and “new control systems that allow heavy trains to maintain traction and gain momentum when going uphill.” GE is confident it has made great progress towards more efficient trains, we hope to see these locomotives in action for real, very soon.