Could a hydrogen-fueled version of the Electro-Motive Diesel two-stroke engine, long a U.S. marine industry work horse, be in the works? These days, the EMD engine is produced by Caterpillar’s Progress Rail subsidiary, which will play a key role in a collaboration between Chevron U.S.A. Inc., a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX), and Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) that was announced yesterday.
One goal of the collaboration is to confirm the feasibility and performance of hydrogen for use as a commercially viable alternative to traditional fuels for line-haul rail and marine vessels. As part of the collaboration, and facilitated by Progress Rail, the parties also agreed to demonstrate a hydrogen-fueled locomotive and associated hydrogen-fueling infrastructure. Work on the rail demonstration will begin immediately at various locations across the United States.
Interestingly, Progress Rail is offering natural gas retrofit kits for the EMD engine and our sister publication Railway Age reports that, in some rail applications, EMD engines have been approved to run on up to 20% biodiesel blends, so it is clearly a very versatile platform.
“Through Chevron New Energies, Chevron is pursuing opportunities to create demand for hydrogen—and the technologies needed for its use—or the heavy-duty transportation and industrial sectors, in which carbon emissions are harder to abate,” said Jeff Gustavson, president of Chevron New Energies. “Our collaboration with Caterpillar is another important step toward advancing a commercially viable hydrogen economy.”
“As we work to provide customers with the capability to use their desired fuel type in their operations, collaborating with Chevron is a great opportunity to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen as a fuel source,” said Joe Creed, Caterpillar group president of Energy & Transportation. “This agreement supports our commitment to investing in new products, technologies and services to help our customers achieve their climate-related objectives as they build a better, more sustainable world.”