Wisconsin Patent of the Month – September 2023

Diesel-electric locomotives are massive machines that form the backbone of the railway industry. With their powerful diesel engines driving generators to produce electricity for electric traction motors, they’ve been hauling goods across the country for decades. However, they’ve also been notorious for their emissions and fuel consumption.

As environmental concerns continue to rise, federal regulations have tightened the leash on locomotive emissions. The focus has been on reducing diesel particulate matter (DPM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), and non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC). Achieving these emission standards has been an uphill battle, especially for high-speed diesel-electric locomotives operating at or above 1150 rpm.

Catalytic Combustion Corporation, emission control system experts, is dedicated to finding solutions to these environmental challenges. Their innovative approach combines an electronic locomotive control system with a diesel emission reduction system to create a near-zero emission diesel-electric locomotive using high-speed diesel engines.

The electronic locomotive control system is the brains behind this revolutionary locomotive. It efficiently regulates engine power, ensuring fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and minimized wheel spin. It’s also equipped with automatic start-stop capabilities, further enhancing efficiency.

The heart of the system is the diesel emission reduction unit, featuring a closed-loop dosing control system with NOx and ammonia (NH3) concentration sensors. This sophisticated setup helps control emissions with precision. Notably, the NOx sensor is isolated from NH3 exposure to ensure accurate readings.

When the locomotive operates at idle or lower throttle notches, an exhaust heating system kicks in, raising the exhaust temperature to the range where catalyst systems can be most effective. This innovation ensures compliance with strict emission standards.

Catalytic Combustion Corporation’s invention represents a significant leap forward in locomotive technology. It’s poised to reduce fuel consumption, engine lube oil consumption, and, most importantly, emissions. With compliance with U.S. EPA Tier 4 standards achieved, this innovation takes us one step closer to a cleaner, more sustainable future for railway transportation.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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