This Exploratory Topic seeks to develop a set of publicly available planning tools for identification, evaluation, and prioritization of energy storage-related technology developments whose deployment would significantly reduce GHG emissions from the rail freight sector. Projects will be informed by, and consistent with, the economic and logistical constraints of the rail freight system and will enable analyses to ensure that energy storage development for rail freight addresses critical technical and logistical issues required for complete decarbonization of this transportation sector. Teams will focus on development of tools specifically for Class 1 freight rail systems, as well as commuter railroads and/or shorter haul freight routes that intersect with Class 1 operations.

The U.S. freight Class 1 rail system is an efficient means of transporting goods throughout the country, accounting for 40% ton-miles of freight movement while consuming 2% of total US transportation energy. While it is efficient, emissions from freight movement are still significant, accounting for an estimated 40 million tons CO2 per year. Incremental improvements in logistics and locomotive technologies over time have contributed to making freight one of the more efficient modes of transportation of goods, but there remains a need to develop new propulsion, energy storage and charging/fueling infrastructure to further move rail systems towards decarbonization. LOCOMOTIVES teams will address this need by developing tools to aid the transportation sector in identifying new, viable low-carbon energy storage and conversion systems for future locomotive systems

 

Projects Funded Within This Exploratory Topic


NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY

MULTI-DECADAL DECARBONIZATION PATHWAYS FOR U.S. FREIGHT RAIL

The freight rail industry faces pressure to reduce its greenhouse emissions. Currently there is no tool to rigorously identify realistic decarbonization pathways. NC State will quantify the potential of battery-electric, hybrid, and hydrogen-fuel motive power to achieve deep decarbonization over a 30-year planning horizon. The team will develop the Achieving Sustainable Train Energy Pathways (A-STEP) open-source software tool to account for train dynamics, propulsion, energy storage, multi-train interactions, energy delivery, and storage infrastructure. They will consider substitutions, capacity expansion of the power system, levelized cost, and freight demand across a range of scenarios. NC State will apply A-STEP to a national sample of key rail corridors.


PENN STATE UNIVERSITY

SYNTHESIS OF CONSISTS AS ROLLING ENERGY MICRO-GRIDS (SCORE)

Penn State team is developing a fully open-source toolset for exploring and optimizing Energy Storage and Power (ES&P) systems for rail transportation. The core of the toolset will be an Energy-Longitudinal Train Dynamics (E-LTD) model that represents the train as a complex rolling micro-grid of power sources and sinks, determining the optimal power flow policy for each. The E-LTD will model power demands and calculate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel consumption, power, acquisition, operations and support, and infrastructure costs. A Route Generation Toolset will ingest publicly available rail line, node, operating restriction, and traffic data and guide users in creating a route database. The resulting, publicly available SCORE toolset will enable evaluation and identification of ES&P technologies that reduce GHG emissions and railroad operations and acquisition costs. 


NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

LOWERING CO2: MODELS TO OPTIMIZE TRAIN INFRASTRUCTURE, VEHICLES, AND ENERGY STORAGE

New propulsion and energy storage (ES) systems technologies, as well as the charging/fueling infrastructure, must be developed to fully decarbonize U.S. rail freight greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Northwestern will develop and apply analysis, evaluation, and decision tools to assess the effectiveness of technologies and deployment strategies to significantly reduce GHG emissions from the rail freight sector. The tools will provide the capability to examine trade-offs between various costs, benefits and other impact components of the different technologies and policies that may impact their deployment. These tools will help support railroad firm decision-making and agency policy formulation and evaluation.


NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY

ADVANCED LOCOMOTIVE TECHNOLOGY AND RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE OPTIMIZATION SYSTEM (ALTRIOS)

This project will develop a unique, fully integrated, Python-based open-source software tool to evaluate strategies for deploying advanced locomotive technologies and associated infrastructure for cost-effective decarbonization. ALTRIOS will simulate energy conversion and storage dynamics, locomotive and train dynamics, meet-pass planning (detailed train timetabling), and freight-demand-driven train scheduling in a Pareto optimization. Because new locomotives represent a significant long-term capital investment and new technologies must be thoroughly demonstrated before deployment, this tool will provide guidance on the risk/reward tradeoffs of different technology rollout strategies. An open, integrated simulation tool will be invaluable for identifying future research needs and making decisions on technology development, routes, and train selection.