Jorge Chapa

TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: GE Evolution Hybrid

by , 11/27/07

GE Evolution Hybrid, train, hybrid, battery, diesel, general electric, GE, salt, ecomagination

We’ve done bikes, cars, boats, and even planes here at Transportation Tuesday, but we never expected to see this one. As part of General Electric’s ecomagination campaign, the engineers behind this project dreamt up a way to transform one of the oldest and most powerful forms of transportation in the planet into an energy efficient marvel. Introducing, the Hybrid Locomotive!



Here is an interesting fact: According GE, a 207-ton locomotive during the course of one year is enough to power 160 households for a year. So why not capture that energy? That’s what they thought as well and what they came up with was quite ingenious.

Take a 4,400 horsepower locomotive, add lead-free rechargeable batteries (essentially a 1,000 pound molten-salt cell), and a fuel-efficient high horsepower diesel locomotive, and you end up with quite a package. Every time the engine brakes, the dynamic energy is transferred into the batteries, thus becoming an extra 2,000 horsepower that is available for use by the operator when needed. The outcome of this? A fuel consumption reduction of about 15% and an emissions cut of a whopping 50% compared to locomotives operating today.

Best part? The first one goes into operation in 2010.

+ GE Ecomagination

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29 Comments

  1. Don Alanen December 10, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Dual-fuel conversions have been available since the early 1990s from my friend’s firm in Tacoma. However, he is a small business and the victim of The Not Invented Here Syndrome in the U.S. He sells his conversions worldwide. BN tested 2 engines for five years on their Mont. to Minn. coal haul with outstanding results – a 67% reduction in emissions by using LNG. When Santa Fe merged with BN the LNG engines were converted back to diesel!!! G.E., G.M. and our Government know his technology exists, but will not admit it. G.E and G.M do not like to pay royalties. There are many more examples of Restraint of Technology by Fortune 500 firms and our Government. I’m writing a book on the subject with a couple dozen examples.

    Retired Mfg Engr.

  2. Prashant kumar singh September 8, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Congratulations;
    I am associated with GE Swtiching locomotives of various capacities, right from 150HP hp 1320 hp, used in our steel plant. These are 66″ gauge, mostly twin power pack, expect 150 hp,diesel electric shunting loco using DC drive. Can you suggest retro fit kit/hybrid to improve fuel efficiency.

  3. Sofa Spud August 19, 2008 at 10:09 am

    As an intermediate step, separate battery helper locomotives could be built, or converted from old locos, to work in multiple with existing unmodified diesel locos. The old traction motors would be left in place on the helper to charge the batteries on deceleration and provide additional traction on acceleration. The extra weight. even if it\’s 150 tons, would be marginal on a heavy freight train and a positive factor in traction terms.

  4. sbend June 2, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Folks, have any of you looked at the price of diesel lately? Sure the railroads want to save fuel, because it\’s money to them pure and simple. These engines have been diesel electric since the late thirties with few exceptions and of course steam power. Nobody has ever called them hybrids before that I know of, they have always been diesel-electric. The locomotive is PURELY electric but carries it\’s own generating plant on board powered by the DIESEL engine or prime-mover. Some of you said right when you mentioned the pollution being made somewhere else for pure elelctric locomotives. These evolution hybrids will make a huge difference by using this regenerative idea. True, it\’s not a new idea, but battery technology hasn\’t been there on this scale before. I say let\’s stop picking this to pieces and call it a good thing and forget it. We\’re saving pollution, there will be less demand for FUEL overall as a nation keeping our prices down, and the RR\’s will save bucks and that\’s good for our economy as a whole. LET US REMEMBER OR LEARN, the Union Pacific RR alone is the WORLD\’S LARGEST CONSUMER OF DIESEL FUEL, BIGGER THAN THE US NAVY! If they can save 15% with these engines, think about the total ramifications. Thanks boys and girls. DH

  5. Peter Chesher UK January 12, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Think yourselves lucky that you still have a locomotive building company in your country and willing to invest in new technology. We here in the UK have lost all of our rail building industry to overseas companies, mainly due to lack of investment in R&D. As many of your bloggers have rightly commented, it is not just about GE’s claims for improved efficiency but the massive amounts of road traffic that is removed by using rail. In the States you tend to use large freight trains and even more congestion should be taken from the roads. Here in the UK rail is finally catching on again after years of under investment, but I believe that massive subsidies should be given to get freight traffic off roads. This would be a great starting point in restoring this planet’s ecological balance. We can’t go on pumping carbon monoxide, NO & NOx into this atmosphere without disastrous effect.

    With regards to those that push the positives of the electric rail systems, remember the massive thermodynamic losses involved in all power plants! Even nuke stations have their environmental costs such as uranium mining and transportation costs as well as the cost of ‘clean up’. It may be more efficient to use these diesels in many cases. Well Done GE, I say!

    Pete Chesher, UK.

  6. Mike Fair December 25, 2007 at 12:31 am

    I thank you guys at GE for the development of the EVO locomotive. I have been inside of one of these locomotives and I am quite impressed with the perforance and functionality of the display screens. I am a die hard railfan, and my e mail address takes after one of your AC6000CW locomotives that were made for CSX. It is one of the three with the GE Diversity In Motion decals on the side. Keep up the good work GE, and keep them coming.

    Mike Fair

  7. ruben December 18, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    ge thank you for makeing a beter locomotive marry x mas ps can you make a locomotive like this for msts? e mail me at train1962@yahoo.com

  8. David December 11, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Fuel cells will, ultimately make an even bigger difference. If GE had paid more attention to their inherited IPR in the ’90s instead of internal politics and installed an intelligent CEO, they would now be streets ahead in that struggling technology. Ironically, it will be a molten salt fuel cell (MCFC) that will best match heavy traction applications. There are two advanced versions, an American one mainly for static installations (and shipping) and a German one for static and locomotive applications – it is being developed by an offshoot of the Daimler-Chrysler axis.

  9. BruceMcF December 9, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    On the question:
    “The problem is that for something as heavy as a train you need _very big_ batteries to make a small difference in efficiency. I wonder if the savings in fuel offset the cost of the batteries.”

    … if it didn’t offset the cost of the batteries, then there wouldn’t be a fuel savings of 15%.

  10. happy December 7, 2007 at 12:42 am

    OMG- I just dreamt up the hybrid helicopter!

  11. EverythingsGoneGreen December 6, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Interesting 50% cut in emissions and 15% cut in fuel consumption… how do these beasts compare to other locomotives elsewhere in the world though?

  12. Timothy December 6, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Electric locomotives are not necessarily cleaner than diesels. The power source for an electric locomotive can be coal, nuclear, or a gas burning plant. The pollution isn’t with the locomotive in this case, but the pollution is still being created somewhere.

    The whole money vs. environment thing has to stop. People keep saying that “this technology costs too much compared to what we have now”. Well, what good is your money going to be when there isn’t a planet to spend it on? Much better for us to spend money now and try to fix the problem than to keep holding on to our money and staying in our rut of using oil only to find that it’s too late and way too expensive a few years from now to fix the problem.

    And yes, diesels are dirty and they pollute. But one double stack container train can take two hundred trucks off the road using only one high horsepower locomotive. Anything that can take two hundred trucks off the road has got to be an improvement.

  13. Engineer-Poet December 6, 2007 at 10:02 am

    No, GHamito, your standard diesel-electric loco does not have traction batteries (starting batteries are another matter). The electric system is used because it improves traction control and eliminates wear elements like clutches; energy from dynamic braking is dumped to resistor banks and dissipated as heat, which eliminates wear on mechanical brakes.

  14. everyday » Blog A... December 5, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    [...] is an interesting article on Inhabit about a new train from General Electric that is utilizing hybrid technology to decrease fuel [...]

  15. Mirco December 5, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Sounds pretty good, if you don’t know that the diesel engine in a train are only used to produce electricity, not running the train.

    If you do know this, it’s very old news. Adding a Battery doesn’t really make it better, but it’s on hell of a good marketing pitch.

  16. theranch December 5, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    What about biodiesel fuel instead of using petroleum based diesel? That would be the FIRST step. Run those bad boys on peanut or soybean oil as the inventor of the Diesel engine intended.

  17. GHamilto December 5, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Erm, aren’t diesel/electric trains *already* packed with batteries? My guess is the only new thing here is the regenerative braking system.

    Surrette Battery in Sringhill, NS, Canada has been making huge locomotive batteries for years. So huge that my impression was that they were more than just a diesel engine starting power source.

  18. Engineer-Poet December 5, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    You can wait until 2010 for a GE hybrid loco, or you can go to Railpower and buy a Green Goat hybrid locomotive today.

    Of course, there have been electric locomotives for a century or so. Not only are they cleaner than any diesel, they have superior pulling power. Eliminating the need for petroleum fuel is the topper; you can run an electric locomotive on anything from coal and hydro to nuclear to wind farms.

    If we want to make sure that our country doesn’t suffer from pollution, oil depletion or global-warming restrictions, moving our freight to rail, electrifying the rail and generating our electricity with nukes and wind is a 100%-proven way to go.

  19. datsun78 December 5, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    it’s great that in the ‘future’ the ice caps are still in tact.
    Positive thinking

  20. something useful December 5, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    @King Kong: bad troll.

    I can buy a nice baseball bat anywhere and use it to play an enjoyable game or to smash your brains onto the curbside. Bats are sold pretty much everywhere, no ID required.

    I don’t see any reason to stop developing these technologies. The chinese can buy them from wherever they want, or even they can build them themselves… it’s not rocket science (and china builds rockets, too). GE is a for-profit corporation, they’re in the business of making money. It’s the American way. Deal with it.

  21. toby December 5, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    diesel train engines have been “hybrids” for a long time, but they still suck – and pollute! in europe, most of the train networks are electrified, allowing any locomotive to feed braking energy back into the grid. much more efficient than a ridiculous 1000 pound battery (or any battery, at that) for a x0000-ton train. do the math.

  22. simon seasons November 30, 2007 at 7:10 am

    There is another brilliant idea out of Australia that is currently being tested by the US army truck fleet. (the largest truck fleet in the world). It is a hydraulic power storage unit that couples to the drive shaft. When the brakes are applied it grips the drive shaft which causes two cylinders to pressure up. This in effects reduces the work of the brake pads as well. When the truck moves off again either from a stand still or simply speeding up from slowing down the cyliders release their pressure back into the driveshaft thereby releasing some load on the engine. The fuel saving is in the vicinity of 30%.
    Perhaps this idea could be applied to wagon axles on trains thereby reducing the load on the engine startup.

  23. King Kong November 28, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    Too bad that they use this technology to destroy the environment and aide in cultural genocide. These are the next generation of the trains that the Chinese government purchased to move thousands of native Chinese into Lhasa.

  24. Eric November 28, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    I’ve been playing with fully electric trains since I was a little kid.

  25. Brad November 27, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Good point Daniel. When I refer to cost, I mean not only the monetary price, but also the energy and environmental cost of the batteries.

  26. Jan Hindrik Knot November 27, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    I truly welcome this initiative, since it shows that also the major players are turning ‘green’. However, most of the kinetic energy in trains is stored in the cars, not in the engine. IMO, in Europe (with predominantly electric traction) feeding the braking energy back into the grid could generate savings an order of magnitude greater than predicterd here by GE.

    /jhk

  27. Brad November 27, 2007 at 11:35 am

    I wonder the same thing about the cost of the batteries. It’s been a long time (half a century or more) that trains have been diesel hybrids, but what a great idea to add the regenerative braking, that’s what really makes the GE train great, it’s not the fact that it’s a “hybrid”, that part is old news. How often do the batteries need to be replaced?

  28. Daniel November 27, 2007 at 11:02 am

    as long as people argue economic dollar costs the environmental impact of change will never be realized. the “market” will never result in conservation measures which result in a reduced consumption level.

    the “market” is by definition predicated on consumption.

    -daniel

  29. BenE November 27, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Train locomotives in use today are almost _all_ diesel electric hybrids. Currently they don’t store their electrical braking energy (But throw it away in big heating coils).Technologically, it’s a very small step to add batteries and benefit from regenerative breaking. The problem is that for something as heavy as a train you need _very big_ batteries to make a small difference in efficiency. I wonder if the savings in fuel offset the cost of the batteries.

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