BNSF, Hotstart partner on locomotive retrofit

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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BNSF Railway is retrofitting 11 of its locomotives with Hotstart idle-reduction technology "to reduce emissions and conserve fuel in Washington" state, with the pool of locomotives to operate out of BNSF rail yards in Spokane and Pasco, Wash. (pictured).

BNSF and Spokane, Wash.-based Hotstart are joined by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency in the effort.

“Minimizing our impact on the planet is a key priority for all of us at BNSF and we are always striving to incorporate new practices and technologies to help us reduce our impact,” said John Lovenburg, BNSF vice president, Environmental. “Through our partnership with Hotstart and Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, we are able to make continued strides in Washington to further reduce carbon emissions in our operations.”

To lower carbon dioxide emissions at its Spokane and Pasco rail yards, BNSF purchased Hotstart’s Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) to reduce idling during cold weather. Hotstart’s APU idle-reduction technology keeps the engine warm and ready to restart. Shutting down an idling locomotive reduces fuel consumption, oil consumption, emissions, noise, and engine wear, BNSF said.

In addition to the APUs, BNSF has installed Automatic Engine Start-Stop systems (AESS) that can be used in conjunction with the APU to shut down the locomotive when not needed. The combination of APUs and AESS can potentially eliminate most locomotive engine idling. Remote data logging systems will be installed onboard each locomotive to monitor and track data for each of the 11 APU systems.

“Hotstart is proud to support BNSF in its efforts to reduce locomotive idling,” said Hotstart CEO Terry Judge. “We’re thrilled that our technology, developed and built right here in Spokane, will help BNSF save fuel and reduce emissions right in our own backyard.”

Spokane Clean Air, with technical assistance from Washington State Department of Ecology, facilitated the partnership between BNSF and Hotstart to purchase the APU idle-reduction technology. When all of the retrofits are complete, it is estimated this project will reduce emissions by more than 22 tons during the six-month, cold weather operational period.

“This project is an excellent example of how technology can be used to reduce air pollution while saving a company money through significant fuel savings. It is a win-win and we hope to see additional diesel engines retrofitted with idle reduction technology throughout our area,” said Julie Oliver, director of Spokane Clean Air.

BNSF says it has already equipped more than 90% of its more than 7,500 locomotives with the AESS idle-control technology. All of BNSF’s new locomotives are also equipped with AESS technology, BNSF says.

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