Progress Rail Develops Battery-Powered Switcher With Vale

Written by Andrew Corselli

Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, has developed a new battery-powered switcher locomotive, the EMD® Joule, working in collaboration with its South American customer Vale. Progress Rail anticipates global availability of the new switcher locomotive in early 2021.

The zero-emission, zero-idle and low-noise EMD® Joule locomotive broadens Progress Rail’s rolling stock portfolio with “the latest smart lithium-ion battery technology and reliable performance for instant start within yard applications.”

The new switcher includes battery capacity being delivered to Vale of 1.9 megawatt hours, and could reach up to 2.4 megawatt hours with additional options available. The switcher has nominal power up to 3,000 hp, and a run time of up to 24 hours, depending upon charging and utilization.

The new EMD® Joule will go into a pilot phase this year, with full service anticipated for Vale soon thereafter, supporting operations at its Tubarão yard. Vale noted that this development “contributes to its ambitious goals of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 33% (direct emissions from owned or controlled sources) by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050 (indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy).”

With the multitude of next-generation technologies being introduced, Progress Rail “began addressing industry challenges with Vale, along with the companies’ collective Brazilian engineering teams and Progress Rail’s U.S.-based locomotive engineers, to deliver a solution with ample power and charging capabilities.” the company said.

According to Gustavo Bastos, Executive Manager at Vale’s Excellence Center and Innovation department, the EMD® Joule “will also be an important step toward the development of solutions for Vale’s GHG reduction plans. This equipment represents a milestone in Vale’s operations decarbonization strategy and is aligned with its new pact with society.”

“Our team has taken great pride in this exciting project, working closely with Vale to deliver a new advanced technology battery locomotive in approximately 11 months,” said Marty Haycraft, President and CEO of Progress Rail. “This locomotive will help Vale achieve its emissions objectives. We look forward to continuing to support our entire global customer base with innovative products and services to help them meet their operating and environmental objectives.”

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