UP, Wabtec, REG Launch Renewable Fuels TestingWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Union Pacific (UP), in partnership with Wabtec and Renewable Energy Group (REG), earlier this month started a “trial of 100% renewable fuels as part of our comprehensive ESG initiative called Building a Sustainable Future 2030.”
According to a May 9/10 Twitter post (see below), the Class I railroad began filling “several of their locomotives with REG’s UltraClean BlenD™” at the Colton, Calif., yard.
UP on March 8 reported that it would start using a higher biodiesel blend in locomotives acquired from Wabtec. While the units are in use system-wide, UP said it would start testing in the second quarter on trains powered by Wabtec FDL engines operating in California.
“Union Pacific is testing the use of higher biodiesel blend—B20 biodiesel and R80 renewable diesel—on locomotives operating in California,” the railroad said in May 12 statement to Railway Age. (Wabtec locomotives were previously approved for B5 R30—5% biodiesel and 30% renewable diesel.)
“This testing is being done in collaboration with Wabtec,” the railroad continued. “The project will help Union Pacific meet its science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. Union Pacific is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and meeting its environmental goals. Increasing the use of renewable diesel and biodiesel fuels represents a promising avenue to make progress toward our target.”
In August 2021, UP reported that Progress Rail approved the use of up to 20% biodiesel blend in the vast majority of ElectroMotive Diesel (EMD®) locomotives operated by the railroad: EMD 710 and 645 series units. Previously, the locomotives were approved to use up to a 5% biodiesel blend. “Progress Rail and Union Pacific are working together to test the higher biodiesel blend in the remaining EMD® fleet,” the railroad reported in its 2021 Climate Action Plan, released in December. “This is only the initial step. EMD® locomotives represent only approximately 40% of our existing locomotive fleet. To reach our goals related to the consumption of low-carbon fuels, we must reach a critical mass of our locomotive fleet compatible with higher blends of low-carbon fuels. Also, additional infrastructure investments may be required to facilitate the storage and use of these higher-blend fuels.
“Our next steps include seeking similar approvals for the use of a 20% biodiesel blend from the other primary locomotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and securing adequate supplies of low-carbon fuels. We are having conversations with current and potential biodiesel supply chain parties to determine what infrastructure requirements will be needed to help us achieve our goals.”
In related developments, CN, in partnership with Progress Rail and Renewable Energy Group (REG), in February reported starting “100% renewable fuel testing in Pennsylvania.”