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Innovative Rolls-Royce Engines to Make Rail Operations Greener and Almost Silent

Rolls-Royce has been testing not just one but multiple rail engine versions that are meant to operate with alternative fuels, more specifically HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil). Three of them have just been released, with two more coming soon.
Rolls-Royce works with partners to test its latest mtu rail engines 7 photos
RDC Autozug Sylt and Rolls-Royce - HVO Trialsmtu Rail EngineDB Cargo and Rolls-Royce - HVO TrialsInauguration of HybridFLEXmtu Rail EngineInauguration of HybridFLEX
HVO uses things such as animal fats and used vegetable oils as its base materials, resulting in dramatic reductions in CO2, nitrogen oxide, and particulate emissions – up to 90%. This sustainable fuel is just one of the paths toward green rail services but looks more effective and easier to implement for now compared to electric and hydrogen fuel cell solutions.

This is the renewable diesel on which the new Rolls-Royce rail engines will run. The mtu Series 1800 engines (used in mtu PowerPacks) and the Series 1300 and 1500 for locomotives and multi-purpose vehicles are now officially approved for using HVO. Series 4000 and 1600 are still undergoing tests.

DB Cargo is one of Rolls-Royce’s partners in testing the mtu Series 4000. Since last summer, it’s been conducting engine bench tests and operational trials with different locomotives powered by an 8V 4000 R41 mtu engine running on HVO. The results look promising – the overall vehicle performance stayed the same, while emission levels were reduced.

RDC Autozug Sylt is another partner in this process, testing out a mtu type 4000 R04 engine on a Vectron DE diesel-electric locomotive.

Overall, the use of HVO on these new engines was proven to not affect performance in any way or require additional maintenance. At the same time, it not only lowers Cos levels but also supports almost silent rail operations.

Earlier this year, Rolls-Royce also helped convert an existing train to hybrid-electric operations by equipping it with two of its mtu Hybrid PowerPacks. Called the HybridFLEX, the converted rain entered service with Chiltern Railways, operating with 25% fewer CO2 emissions and 75% less noise when switching to the electric mode.

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