Study Favors Battery Power for Locomotives

A recent federal study found significant environmental benefits and cost savings could be realized by railroads by converting diesel locomotives to battery power.

Railroads could save up to $94 billion over a 20-year period and avoid 1,000 premature deaths per year through reduced air pollution.

The study was conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and published in Nature Emergy.

Collaborating on the study were the University of California Los Angeles and the University of California Berkeley.

Diesel engines could be left in place in locomotives to serve as a backup power source, the study said.

The study said improvements in battery technology have made the retrofitting possible.

The batteries could be contained within battery tenders or rail cars with battery units.

Those could also be used as mobile power sources during extreme events such as wildfires or winter storms to create an auxiliary power source in regions that where power sources have been knocked offline.

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