CN, Progress Rail, REG Advancing Renewable Fuels

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

CN and Progress Rail, a Caterpillar Company, are partnering with Renewable Energy Group (REG) “to test high-level renewable fuel blends including both biodiesel and renewable diesel in support of the companies’ sustainability goals.”

“Trials and qualifications of up to 100% bio-based diesel fuel are important steps in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from CN’s existing locomotive fleet, while alternative propulsion locomotive technologies are being developed,” CN said. “This program will allow CN and Progress Rail to better understand the long-term durability and operational impacts of renewable fuels on locomotives, especially in cold weather, and plan needed modifications to fully leverage their usage over the next decade. Rail has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of transportation services, as shipping heavy freight by rail can reduce carbon emissions by up to 75% when compared to trucks. Looking to 2030 and beyond, reducing fossil carbon emissions associated with rail transportation will continue to require innovative fuel-efficient technologies, the greater use of cleaner sustainable fuels, and designing innovative low emission supply chain solutions through investments and collaboration.”

“CN is committed to adapting our business to changing climate conditions,” noted CN President and CEO JJ Ruest. “The successful testing and procurement of renewable fuels is part of a portfolio of initiatives to meet our 2030 science-based target. The extent of our ability to fully deploy and implement new technologies will require collaboration between locomotive manufacturers and fuel producers.”

“As part of our commitment to make a meaningful, positive impact on the environment, Progress Rail provides a wide range of products and services that offer fuel flexibility,” said Progress Rail President and CEO Marty Haycraft. “We are proud to partner with CN to help support their sustainability goals, as well as our own.”

“Bio-based diesel is delivering fossil carbon reductions, and we are proud to work with CN and Progress Rail on this effort that highlights the potential of our fuels as a sustainable solution for the rail industry,” added REG President and CEO Cynthia ‘CJ’ Warner. “Sustainability is a driving force in today’s market, and REG is delivering by converting renewable resources into cleaner fuels, providing sustainable solutions to our forward-leaning customers like CN and Progress Rail.” 

CN’s initiative with Progress Rail and REG builds upon the locomotive builder’s approval in August 2021 of higher biodiesel fuel blend content. Union Pacific’s EMD 710 and 645 series locomotives can now operate with up to 20% biodiesel blend in its units. Previously, EMD 710s and 645s were approved to operate at 5%.

In a related sustainability development, CN is acquiring a Wabtec FLXdrive battery locomotive.

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