By 2050 zero-emission locomotives may have completely replaced conventional diesel-powered equipment on the railways of the world.
Current development of zero-emission switcher locomotives, combined with practical operating experience, increases this likelihood in the foreseeable future. It will be increasingly possible to determine the optimal type or types of zero- or low- emission locomotives to replace conventional diesel units.
Today, four types of zero- or low-emission locomotives are being developed. These are self-contained battery-electric, electric-battery (operating off overhead catenary or internal batteries), hydrogen fuel cell (HFC), and units with upgraded diesel engines using low-carbon renewable diesel or biodiesel, hydrogen/diesel blends, and even an ammonia/hydrogen blend.
While zero-emission switcher locomotives and passenger trainsets have appeared on the world’s railways, until recently, no technology has been developed that would provide enough power for main line locomotives. Now such technologies are available, and prototype locomotives have been built.
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