Freightliner secures government funding for duel-fuel project

Freightliner, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W), in partnership with a consortium of specialist suppliers, has been successful in securing government funding to develop a dual-fuel solution for the Class 66 locomotive.

The technology is one of the 30 winners of the latest round of the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition announced today by the Transport Secretary. Already the safest and greenest mode of ground-freight transportation, the competition has been aimed at making the railways even cleaner, greener and more passenger friendly. 

This is the first time that this technology, which is widely used in the road industry, will be applied to the rail freight sector on such an important and widely used class of locomotive. Work will commence on 1 July and take place over a nine-month period.

The key project partners are Freightliner, which operates over 113 Class-66s in the UK, and Clean Air Power, providers of innovative clean air solutions for freight. The project is also supported by Network Rail, Tarmac, Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB), Flogas, Carrickarory and the University of Birmingham.

The project will investigate the ability to substitute diesel with both hydrogen and biogas on the Class-66 locomotive which hauls over 80% of freight on the UK rail network and, in doing so, reduce carbon emissions on one of the industry’s most challenging two-stroke locomotives.  This will be achieved by retrofitting the Class 66 with Clean Air Power’s precision injection technology, creating a Class 66 that can run on a combination of diesel, biogas and hydrogen.

This sustainable solution will support a programme to decarbonise freight operating companies’ diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that does not require significant short-term investment and facilitates operational learning in support of a longer-term fleet replacement programme, potentially using 100% hydrogen fuel.

Exhaust emissions will be assessed in line with the latest RSSB guidance to understand both the baseline conditions and the impact of dual-fuelling for both hydrogen and biogas. Emissions and substitution data is a key output of this project and will be available to RSSB.

All work on locomotives, static testing and emission data collection will be carried out at Freightliner’s vehicle maintenance facility in Leeds, supported by Carrickarory Consultancy and in consultation with RSSB.

“Freightliner is excited to be a key partner in this pioneering decarbonisation project,” said Freightliner UK Rail Managing Director Tim Shakerley.  “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 on this additional government-funded project.  With decarbonisation high on the agenda, these initiatives will further support the government’s pledge to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

Dan Skelton, Managing Director of Clean Air Power, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Freightliner and other partners on this project. All parties are focussed on delivering a fully functioning low-carbon, low-emission, hydrogen-friendly Class 66 locomotive. 

“Our solution offers a route to viable, long-term decarbonisation and its associated cost benefits, which will be practical to implement and scale. With the know-how and expertise, we share, we’re looking forward to this new and exciting initiative making a real difference.”

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