DB Cargo UK conducts HVO emissions testing

DB Cargo UK has teamed with GTS and Toton TMD to test the impact of using Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil to power locomotives.

Credit: DB Cargo UK

To demonstrate the benefits of using Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel, DB Cargo UK has worked with Group Technical Support (GTS) and Toton TMD to facilitate load bank testing of a Class 60 locomotive. The testing also aimed to compare the effect of HVO fuel on locomotive exhaust gas emissions and performance to that of standard red diesel.

The Class 60 locomotive was fully fuelled with standard red diesel and connected to the Toton TMD Load Bank facility for the performance testing of the locomotive engine over its whole power range. To accurately monitor exhaust gas emissions at each power position from Idle to Full Load, a purpose-built exhaust extension tube was fitted to the locomotive to calm the exhaust gases. The emissions of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, and particle mass were measured twice in a standardised measuring cycle (F-cycle) at three load points.

Emissions Result Dashboard

The emissions result dashboard – Credit: DB Cargo UK

After the first test was completed, the diesel fuel was completely drained, and the locomotive was refuelled with HVO for the second test. The emission measurement was then repeated, analogous to the measurement with diesel, to gain a direct comparison of exhaust gas emissions and performance between the two fuels. The back-to-back tests were done to assess the impact of HVO fuel on locomotive emissions and its potential as an alternative fuel. Locomotives usually have a service life of 40 years; therefore, it is vital to radically reduce the use of fossil fuels that power traditional diesel engines.

“If this round of testing shows that HVO fuel cuts emissions in a Class 60 locomotive, a loco with a 34-year-old engine, in a similar way to more modern locomotives, this would prove that HVO is a viable and effective alternative to standard red diesel,” Jörg Schneider, Head of Climate Protection and Energy, and the lead for sustainability at DB Cargo AG, said. “Adopting HVO fuel in all diesel locomotives would then have a significant impact on the rail industry’s carbon footprint and overall air quality in the UK.”

Jörg Schneider, Silvo Kleine, Harry Walton, Paul Wilton, Kathryn Oldale, Stefan Heibl

Jörg Schneider, Silvo Kleine, Harry Walton, Paul Wilton, Kathryn Oldale and Stefan Heibl – Credit: DB Cargo UK

“HVO is the only credible solution to decarbonise rail freight today and requires significantly less investment than mass electrification in the short term,” Kathryn Oldale, Head of Strategy, Policy and Communications at DB Cargo UK, and the UK Lead for Sustainability, said. “In the long term however, we must see a programme for electrification of key routes across our network. Now, we are poised to decarbonise our operations by 90% just by swapping to renewable fuel but this will require marginal investment to promote a step change culture across our industry, this is where we are calling on our decision makers to see the direct benefits of HVO.”

DB Cargo has already reduced its CO2 emissions by almost 70% over the past 30 years and has set itself an ambitious target for climate neutrality by 2040. As part of the alternative fuels project, they are also planning to use synthetic fuels, as well as so-called air-to-fuel. The load bank testing of the Class 60 locomotive at DB Cargo UK is another important step in this journey towards a more sustainable future for rail freight.


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