BNSF
Automated, driverless train: Image credit Stock

US freight transportation firm BNSF Railway has received $22.6 million in funding from the California Air Resources Board to reduce its carbon footprint.

BNSF is using the funding to pilot various technologies that would help the firm to reduce its carbon emissions.

For instance, BNSF in collaboration with San Joaquin's valley air pollution control district and GE Transportation have unveiled the Zero- and Near Zero-Emission Freight Facilities pilot project.

BNSF will electrify its vehicles such as cranes, loaders, trucks and trains.

GE Transportation will develop an all battery-electric locomotive to power a freight train traveling from Stockton to Barstow.

The locomotive will comprise an onboard energy management system, energy storage and advanced system-optimisation controls to improve performance.

The locomotive will generate up to 2,400KWh of energy, a development which will reduce the train's total power consumption by 10 to 15%.

“BNSF is focused on continuing to reduce our environmental impact, and we’re committed to doing our part to test and prove the commercial viability of emerging technologies that reduce emissions,” said John Lovenburg, vice president, environmental.

“Battery-powered or hybrid locomotives are promising technologies for the rail industry with the potential to reduce operating costs and emissions,” said Dominique Malenfant, vice president, global technology, GE Transportation. “This project will give us tremendous insight into the capabilities of battery power and the best operational methods of leveraging the technology. It will accelerate the development of this cleaner, more efficient solution for the freight rail industry.”

The equipment will be manufactured in 2019 and deployed in 2020. The grant will cover approximately half the cost of what is estimated to be a $45 million project.