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Diesel Locomotive - Efficiency in Motion

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Diesel Locomotives – Efficiency in Motion

Since the early 1900’s, diesel technology in locomotives has changed the railroad industry. Although the diesels were slow to catch on, the diesel locomotive proved to be more powerful, safer, more efficient and have less maintenance than steam powered locomotives. Today, modern diesel electric locomotives have further stretched the benefits of diesel technology. Incredibly, freight trains have increased their fuel efficiency by 80 percent over the past 25 years and today's locomotives can move a ton of freight more than 400 miles on a single gallon of fuel. With all the benefits regarding diesels, there is another source of inefficiency in the railroad that is often overlooked, the rail yard and switching terminals. The rail yards and switching terminal are traditionally the biggest culprits of air pollution and fuel inefficiency, presenting the greatest opportunities for further improvement.

The Belt Railway Company of Chicago (BRC) is the largest intermediate switching terminal railroad in the United States. The BRC has 28 miles of mainline with more than 300 miles of switching tracks, allowing it to interchange with every railroad serving the Chicago rail hub. The Belt's Clearing Yards span a 5.5 mile distance among 786 acres, supporting more than 250 miles of track. The Belt Railway currently dispatches on a service-driven basis more than 8,400 rail cars per day. At Clearing Yard, employees are able to classify between 3,000 – 3,500 rail cars every 24 hours.

The Belt Railway has been in operation since 1882 and has been through many rough times. Now the BRC is approaching another hurdle with an aging fleet of locomotives. As shown in Table 1 below, the BRC fleet consists of mother-slug units on the hump (SD38-40), single engines for switching (GP-38 and SW1500’s) and at times multiple units for heavy trains to be pulled from Clearing to connecting railroads. The most common engine in the locomotives is a 645E blower type engine. With an average age of a locomotive at the Belt at 37 years, it is time to look at what options are available.

Table 1: BRC Locomotive Fleet

Rebuilding and refurbishing the current fleet is an option as well as purchasing newer used locomotives. Rather than investing in yesterday’s technology, there are incentives to go with the green technology now available. Not only because it is the right ting to do but also in the monetary savings overtime, plus state and federal funds available for purchasing green locomotives. Such programs include: State Clean Diesel Grant Program FY 08 for the National Clean Diesel Campaign, EPA-R5-MCDI-2008 Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative Competitive Grant, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) State Clean Diesel Grant Program.

The most inefficient use of a locomotive is idling. The BRC has operating rules in place to help reduce fuel consumption and emissions with locomotives. Since most of the fleet is utilized 24 hours a day and cycled to the diesel shop for repairs or servicing every 3 to 5 days, there is little time the engines are not moving. Still there was an opportunity to save fuel by shutting down the locomotive while not in use. BRC operating rule book, Air Brake Rules part 206, addresses locomotive shutdown. The BRC has seen great savings in implementing this rule. On average, an idled locomotive will burn about 3.5 gals per hour, with 10-20 locomotive continually running at one time, this adds up to as much as 70 gals per hour idled - 1680 gals per day – 11,760 gals per week – 47,040 gals per month – 564,480 gal per year. Many railroads have “smart start” or similar technology to start and stop locomotives to save fuel. The BRC does not utilize this technology but does use rule compliance to save fuel. Changes to Air Brake rule 206 took place the end of 2008, Locomotive Shutdown states: Unless otherwise designated, shut down all locomotives left standing unattended for 15 minutes or longer and the ambient temperature is not expected to fall below 35 degrees Fahrenheit except when authorized by local supervisors or train dispatcher.
• It is not necessary to shut down RCL locomotives placed in short term securement for less than 15 minutes.
• Locomotives within servicing areas may be started only when necessary for movement or as required for maintenance activities.
• Leave one unit of multiple unit locomotives running to maintain air pressure when coupled to cars.
• It is not necessary to shut down DP (Distributed Power) units in a train unless instructed by the train dispatcher or local supervisors.
• Locomotives with a tag indicating “weak batteries” should not be shutdown until the condition is corrected.
• Locomotives equipped with an automatic start/stop system may be left running, however the switch must be properly positioned with the indicator light/message showing the system is enabled. If the auto start/stop system is not operable the unit is considered to be non-equipped. Remote control locomotives must be in the manual mode to have the system operable.
• Contact the train dispatcher, yardmaster, or local supervisor concerning the expected length of the delay or the expected temperature during the shutdown.
• Shut down diesel engine in compliance with current rules and/or instructions

Table 2: BRC Fuel Consumption of Diesel Fuel by Gals

| |2008 |2009 |2010 |
|Jan |150429 |140735 |127422 |
|Feb |141335 |118637 |118303 |
|March |152300 |93917 |123697 |
|April |144105 |89730 |96853 |
|May |131165 |80610 |101566 |
|June |113719 |74640 |106805 |
|July |125569 |79839 |105377 |
|Aug |123798 |91584 |104475 |
|Sept |115943 |89796 | |
|Oct |128197 |97552 | |
|Nov |133602 |91356 | |
|Dec |128313 |124092 | |

In Table 2, results between 2008 and 2009 are skewed due the downturn in the economy but 2010 figures are more in line with true fuel savings. While the locomotive shutdown rule has provided significant fuel savings and emission reductions, it is time to take the next step and invest the savings into better technology and/or fuel options.

So how can the BRC have better efficiency and lower emissions in the terminal? Throughout the years of diesel locomotives there have been many small additions to improve the diesel locomotive. However, rather than investing in yesterday’s technology, there are incentives to go with “green” technology now available. Certainly being green in the public eye is an important benefit, but there is also monetary savings overtime. Plus, state and federal funds are available for purchasing green locomotives. Such programs include: State Clean Diesel Grant Program FY 08 for the National Clean Diesel Campaign, EPA-R5-MCDI-2008 Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative Competitive Grant, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) State Clean Diesel Grant Program. Current green technology is Hybrid locomotives and Generator Set (Gen-Set) locomotives that are in use and proving to be the future of railroad locomotive fleets. Another option is alternative fuels sources for powering locomotives.

The most economical and readable step would be to blend bio-fuel into existing locomotives. Bio-diesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. Bio-diesel can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a diesel additive, a 20% blend commonly known as B-20, to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons from diesel-powered vehicles. Bio-diesel is produced from oils or fats using transesterification.

British Train Operating Company Virgin Trains claims to have run the world's first "bio-diesel train", which was converted to run on 80% diesel and only 20% bio-diesel, and it is claimed it will save 14% on direct emissions.[1] The Royal Train on September 15, 2007 completed its first ever journey on 100% bio-diesel fuel supplied by Green Fuels Ltd. Since 2007 the Royal Train has operated successfully on B100 (100% bio-diesel).[2] Similarly, a state-owned short-line railroad in Eastern Washington ran a test of a 25% bio-diesel / 75% diesel blend during the summer of 2008, purchasing fuel from a bio-diesel producer seated along the railroad tracks.[3] The train will be powered by bio-diesel made in part from canola grown in agricultural regions through which the short line runs. Also in 2007 Disneyland began running the park trains on B98 bio-diesel blends (98% bio-diesel). The program was discontinued in 2008 due to storage issues and public relations concerns using food for fuel, but in January 2009 it was announced that the park would then be running all trains on bio-diesel manufactured from its own used cooking oils. This is a change from running the trains on soy-based bio-diesel.[4] Most recently the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) and Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. (EMD) have teamed up and testing bio-diesel for locomotive fuel applications. This venture is utilizing eight SD70M-2 units and two MP15 switchers manufactured by EMD and owned/operated by NS will be used during the testing. The program is to last nine to eleven months under various operating conditions. The testing will give a broad range of results based on the locomotives that are being used, the continuous use of road power and the demands on stop and go with the switching locomotives. The benefits of bio-diesel have been shown to work well with on road vehicles and reduce emissions. The long term effects on the internal components of an engine look promising as well. There are however downsides to bio-diesel, the first being availability. Bio-diesel is easy to make but the plants that make bio-fuels are limited at this time. Today, there are about 105 plants capable of producing 864 million gallons of bio-diesel. The National Bio-diesel Board (NBB) map below (Figure 1) shows the locations of these plants (the blue circles indicate BQ-9000 accredited producers, a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of producers and marketers of bio-diesel fuel) [5]

Figure 1: National Bio-diesel Board map of bio-diesel production plants

Since the largest concentration of accredited plants are in the Midwest, due to the agriculture. Transportation and storage facilities should be factored into the use of bio-diesel. In addition, there are public relation concerns of using “food for fuel”. The use of soybeans and corn to convert into fuels is widely debated. Are there enough farms to produce food and fuel? Matthew Brown, an energy consultant and former energy program director at the National Conference of State Legislatures says “Replacing only five percent of the nation’s diesel consumption with bio-diesel would require diverting approximately 60 percent of today’s soy crops to bio-diesel production,”

At least one railroad, the Tri-City & Olympia Railroad Co. in Richland, WA is producing biodiesel for TCRY locomotives, making it the first known railroad company to produce its own biodiesel.[7] TCRY currently handles approximately 100 cars on its 127-mile short line and uses 500 gallons of fuel each week. The TCRY has solved one problem of the biodiesel supply by having the source on property. ConAgra Foods Inc. is a client on TCRY’s line and has agreed to supply oil for its research plant. The company will purchase varying types of ConAgra’s 26 food-grade virgin oils to test and determine what works best for its locomotives.

Another debatable fact about bio-fuels is whether producing them actually requires more energy than they can generate. After factoring in the energy needed to grow crops and then convert them into bio-fuels, Cornell University researcher David Pimental explains, that the numbers just don’t add up. His 2005 study found that producing ethanol from corn required 29 percent more energy than the end product itself is capable of generating. He found similarly troubling numbers in making bio-diesel from soybeans. [6]

Bio-fuels are an alternative to fossil fuels, the feasibility is however debatable. There is research that has continued to “evolve” bio-fuel production. Currently, Texas A&M University is working with Galveston Bay Bio-diesel to develop and commercialize new bio-diesel feedstock technologies as options to soybean and canola feedstock’s. The use of algae and other sources to make bio-fuels is also on the horizon. So bio-fuels are still a viable option for the future.

Hybrid and Gen-Set locomotives are being produced and used on railroads across the nation and in other countries. For the Belt Railway, the Gen-Set locomotive makes the most sense. Since the current fleet of locomotives is aged and needs to be replaced, setting aside some capital money to invest in newer locomotives that are designed for the type of work that the BRC does is important. Additionally, using these more efficient locomotives in a switching terminal in a populated city environment would benefit both the railroad and the environment. There are several Gen-set and Hybrid locomotives available and in use at this time.

The Union Pacific has a fleet of 160 Gen-Set locomotives and has been utilizing this set up since 2005. It is projected to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen by 80 percent and particulate matter by 90 percent, while using as much as 37 percent less fuel compared to current older switching locomotives. CSX also has a large fleet of Gen-Set locomotives being used in the Midwest area, once again proving the technology works in the similar environment to the BRC.

The BRC has an advantage by having Class I railroads testing and using Gen-Set locomotives and seeing the results of what is working. With the Union Pacific and CSX utilizing a large sample of Gen-Sets and Hybrid locomotives (Green Goat), the BRC can make a better decision on the technology that shows the best results for operations and service history. Union Pacific tested the world's first diesel-battery hybrid switch locomotive in early 2002. The "Green Goat" is similar in concept to the Hybrid automobile, which relies on both a gasoline engine and a battery-powered electric motor. The Green Goat, however, depends entirely on its small, diesel-powered engine to charge onboard storage batteries to provide all propulsion power. The Green Goat hybrid locomotive is estimated to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter by up to 80 percent, and reduce fuel consumption by at least 16 percent, compared to a conventional switch locomotive. [8] Union Pacific tested the original prototype Green Goat locomotive during 2002 and 2003, and acquired its first Green Goat hybrid locomotive in March 2005. The locomotives are used in daily switching. Ten units are serving the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth yards. An additional 11 Green Goat locomotives are used in California, most of them in the Los Angeles area. The use of Green Goat locomotives are proving to be an alternative to traditional diesel locomotives but the concern for the BRC is extended use in cold temperatures. Gen-Set locomotives have been used in the Chicago area by other Class I railroads and the results are economical. The National Railway Equipment Company (NRE) and Caterpillar are both located in Illinois, producing Gen-Set locomotives. Keeping the locomotive supplier close to the BRC operations is also an advantage for both delivery and trouble shooting if needed. The Gen-Set locomotives can have 1, 2, 3 or 4 smaller diesel engines compared to the traditional locomotive. The most widely used set up in the rail industry for yard switching is 3 Gen-Sets. The engines run independently of each other and depending on the need of speed and amperage, 1, 2, or 3 of the engines will be used. When the need goes away, the third will shut down after a set amount of time, for example, one minute, after five minutes the second will shut down, then the third will go into sleep mode after 15 minutes. The Gen-Sets also utilize a system that tracks the usage of each engine and changes the primary engine to keep maintenance inline for all engines. The alternating of primary engines allows maintenance on all engines to have the same requirements when serviced. Reducing shop time is an added benefit for the BRC. Servicing locomotives is considered unproductive time for a locomotive, if a locomotive is not pulling or pushing freight then it is not productive. In a 24 hour production terminal, downtime is managed to a minimum; a shorter turn into the maintenance shop means more production from each locomotive. The diesel Gen-Set switcher locomotives can be cranked up as quickly as a truck engine, avoiding the need to leave engines idling for long periods of time, resulting in drastic reductions in pollution and fuel consumption. The Gen-Set achieves an impressive 80% reduction in nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions, in addition to approximately 50% CO2 savings capability by monitoring engine idling and switching to a sleep mode after a period of inactivity. Besides the obvious reduction of emissions for the railroad property and its employees, the locomotive makes for better neighbors as well. A locomotive with lower emissions helps with public relations, with homeowners and businesses in the area allowing for the potential of attracting more business for the BRC.

Several companies’ offer Gen-Set locomotives to railroads, for example: GE, Caterpillar, National Railway Equipment Co (NRE) and RJ Corman to name a few. As mentioned earlier, NRE and Caterpillar are both companies in Illinois, building and repairing locomotives. Again, having a source of locomotive expertise so close is yet another advantage to the BRC. In addition to the emissions reduction, NRE claims, fuel savings of 35%-70% dependent on the applications, reductions in locomotive mechanical and electrical maintenance costs from 35%-50%+ and tractive effort efficiency improvements of 65%-75%+ over conventional locomotives[9] . All of which are a great selling points for the BRC. Besides the obvious fuel savings and the before mentioned maintenance savings, the tractive effort is a big advantage to the BRC because of the grade on the hump. Lifting large tonnage up a 3-4% grade on a stationary train weighing up to 18,000 tons requires significant tractive effort. If a locomotive can not lift a train then delays are incurred. This is a common problem at the Belt, one solution was to add an additional locomotive to a hump consist. Adding the additional locomotive further reduces available locomotives for daily operations.

Once the BRC has acquired Gen-Set locomotives then the use of biodiesel can be introduced to the fleet as well. Located in the Midwest, the Belt Railway is in a good position to have biodiesel fuel as an alternative fuel source. Again following the research of other Class I railroads, the mixture of biodiesel that works best for the Gen-Sets should already be in place, limiting the experimental stage for the BRC and reaping the benefits of lower fuel consumption and lower emissions.

With better efficiency, follows better production. Add to that better safety and the Belt Railway Company of Chicago will be ready to continue to be the hub for the nations railroads to process freight. The BRC is the largest intermediate switching terminal railroad in the United States and through reinvestment in diesel technology it will remain the largest and most efficient.


1. First UK bio-diesel train launched,
2. EWS Railway - News Room.
3. Vestal, Shawn (2008-06-22). "Bio-diesel will drive Eastern WA train during summerlong test". Seattle Times.
4. Disneyland trains running on biodiesel.
5. As Reported by the U.S. Department of Energy, November 2007. The DOE web site gives detailed instructions on how to use their Alternative Fueling Station Locator.
6. “Can bio-fuels cure America’s addiction to oil?” By Larry West, Guide
7. Biodiesel Magazine March 2008
8. Union Pacific Environmental Management
9. National Railway Company -

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...TITLE PAGE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF HYDRAULIC SCISSORS LIFT BY OKOLIE IZUNNA JUDE FPI/HND/MEC/010/001 BEN DAVID IDOKO FPI/HND/MEC/010/002 OKECHUKWU NNAMDI FPI/HND/MEC/010/004 ENEJIYON ABDULMALEEQ FPI/HND/MEC/010/009 AGONOR WILLIAMS FPI/HND/MEC/010/019 BEING A REPORT SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING, FEDERAL POLYTECHNIC IDAH, KOGI STATE IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE AWARD OF HIGHER NATIONAL DIPLOMA (HND) IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING 2011/2012 SESSION CERTIFICATION We the undersigned hereby certify that this project was carried out by the under listed students. OKOLO IZUNNA JUDE FPI/HND/MEC/010/001 ____________________________ BEN DAVID IDOKO FPI/HND/MEC/010/002 ____________________________ OKECHUKWU NNAMDI FPI/HND/MEC/010/004 ____________________________ ENEJIYON ABDULMALEEQ FPI/HND/MEC/010/009 ____________________________ AGONOR WILLIAMS FPI/HND/MEC/010/019 ____________________________ Mechanical Engineering Department under the supervision of Mr. Bingfa Bongfa. I certify that the work is adequate in scope and quality for the partial fulfillment for the award of Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mechanical Engineering. ___________________________ _______________________ ENGR. O. Y. USMAN MR. BINGFA BONGFA Head of Department Supervisor APPROVAL PAGE This project work titled design and construction of hydraulic scissors lift......

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