OptiFuel to test RNG-powered locomotive

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OptiFuel Systems (OptiFuel) will begin testing a prototype 5600 hp Total-Zero™ Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Line Haul Locomotive and 2500 hp Total-Zero™ Powered Tender with 7,500 DGE (diesel gallon equivalent) capacity, in January next year.
The RNG-powered line haul locomotive produces 5100 hp of continuous power from zero emission Cummins RNG engines using OptiFuel’s Quick-Power™ technology with a peak power of 5600 hp with the standard LFP battery pack.
Focused on sustainability, OptiFuel’s near-term, low risk, affordable Total-Zero™ RNG-Electric Line Haul Locomotive will have ZERO Well-to-Wheel (WTW) nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) criteria emissions and Negative Carbon Intensity (CI) while simultaneously improving fuel cost and operating range by 25%.
This solution aims to eliminate harmful pollutants that are released from diesel and renewable diesel engines that are detrimental to air quality and public health.
Partially funded with a US Department of Energy (DoE) grant, the program will perform pre-production testing at the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Transportation Technology Center (TTC) for 12 months.
In 2026, OptiFuel will start a 2-year, 1-million-mile test program with ten pre-production 5600 hp RNG line haul locomotives and five 10,000 DGE RNG tenders operating around the US.
Upon successful completion, plans are to begin full production in 2028. The RNG line haul locomotive is estimated to be priced around $5.5 million (€5 million) and can be purchased or leased.
“As the designer and builder of the fuel cell, hydrogen storage, and battery modules for Sierra Northern Railway’s (SERA) hydrogen hybrid switcher locomotives, OptiFuel is uniquely qualified to understand the strength and weakness of battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell hybrid locomotives,” said Scott Myers, OptiFuel’s president.
“However, we now believe that RNG is the preferred path to zero emission line haul locomotives and tenders due to the physics of energy storage, overall operating cost, operating risk, fuel availability and cost over the next 20 years. A 4500 hp line haul locomotive requires continuous high power for extended hours, something that neither battery-electric nor hydrogen fuel cell hybrid line haul locomotive solutions will be able to do.”

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