HomeCompany NewsDB Cargo tests alternative to diesel fuel

DB Cargo tests alternative to diesel fuel

As part of its programme to look for new and innovative ways to power its fleet and decarbonise its operations, DB Cargo UK has successfully trialled the use of 100% renewable Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil (HVO) as an alternative to diesel fuel..

A series of tests have taken place at the company’s load bank facility at Toton Traction Maintenance Depot in Nottinghamshire, where traditional red diesel has been substituted for the more environmentally friendly HVO fuel.

In those tests, a Class 67 diesel locomotive has been put through its paces – from idling to full power – with monitoring showing no adverse impact on the performance of the locomotive’s powerful 3,200bhp engine.

The company now plans to move to live, on-track testing of the HVO fuel in both its Class 67 and 66 freight fleet. Tests are also planned for the company’s fleet of Class 60 locomotives.

HVO – Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil – is marketed as “one of the world’s purest and greenest fuels”. It’s synthetically made through the hydro-treatment process from vegetable oils or animal fats which significantly reduces harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions when used in diesel vehicles and machinery.

Chief executive Andrea Rossi described the results as “extremely promising” with the potential to significantly reduce the company’s carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels: “As the UK’s largest provider of rail logistic solutions operating the largest fleet of locomotives, we have a responsibility to our customers and to society in general to continuously look for more sustainable ways of operating and minimise our impact on the environment.

“The Government has set the rail industry an incredibly stretching target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and only through the greater electrification of the UK rail network and innovation like this will we meet this challenge.

“The results of our trial are very exciting and we have many more initiatives in the pipeline to further reduce our environmental impact” he added.

DB Cargo UK’s Head of Asset Management and Maintenance Steve Wilkinson said the company was collaborating with one of the UK’s leading suppliers of HVO fuel which already worked with high-profile brands like Caterpillar, John Deere, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.

“We are very pleased with the initial performance of the HVO fuel which we could use instead of or alongside traditional red diesel. The fact it is compatible with our existing diesel means investment in new storage and fuelling facilities would also be kept to a minimum,” he added.

“On top of that, it performs well at low temperatures, has a longer lifespan and is biodegradable,” he added.

DB Cargo UK currently operates 228 diesel and electric locomotives that transport in the region of 37 million tonnes of freight each year across the UK and into Europe. It uses approximately 45 million litres of red diesel a year.

Nigel Wordsworth BSc(Hons) MCIJhttp://therailengineer.com
SPECIALIST AREAS Rolling stock, mechanical equipment, project reports, executive interviews Nigel Wordsworth graduated with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham University, after which he joined the American aerospace and industrial fastener group SPS Technologies. After a short time at the research laboratories in Pennsylvania, USA, Nigel became responsible for applications engineering to industry in the UK and Western Europe. At this time he advised on various engineering projects, from Formula 1 to machine tools, including a particularly problematic area of bogie design for the HST. A move to the power generation and offshore oil supply sector followed as Nigel became director of Entwistle-Sandiacre, a subsidiary of the Australian-owned group Aurora plc. At the same time, Nigel spent ten years as a Technical Commissioner with the RAC Motor Sports Association, responsible for drafting and enforcing technical regulations for national and international motor racing series. Joining Rail Engineer in 2008, Nigel’s first assignment was a report on new three-dimensional mobile mapping and surveying equipment, swiftly followed by a look at vegetation control machinery. He continues to write on a variety of topics for most issues.


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