Green credentials of railways not enough: ‘we need lower emissions now’
The Decarbonisation Company, a climate tech startup, aims to accelerate the energy transition in the rail sector by de-fossilising combustion engines. RailTech.com spoke to founder Marleen van de Kerkhof about the company’s solution and goals.
According to Van de Kerkhof, the railway sector can still make significant steps in terms of sustainability, even though it already boasts green credentials. She is a firm believer in railways as the most sustainable means of transport. It is also the reason why she joined Dual Inventive, a company that develops and produces technology products that improves the safety and efficiency of rail.
“I found it astonishing that in Europe, one in five trains still run on diesel. Furthermore, the so-called yellow fleet for track work operates nearly entirely on diesel. In the European rail infrastructure, only sixty percent of the lines are electrified, which on-track machines (OTMs) unfortunately often cannot use. I therefore see an enormous global potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by switching to alternative drive systems for OTMs”, Van de Kerkhof says.
Technical solutions are needed now
These alternative drive systems include battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cells. However, these alternatives are quite expensive and limited in power output and performance”, says Van de Kerkhof. Until other technologies have replaced the combustion engine, technical solutions are needed for the reduction of diesel engine exhaust gas emissions, she adds. Enter The Decarbonisation Company (TDC).
“We offer a retrofit solution to run diesel engines in trains and OTMs on renewable fuels such as bio methanol, ethanol and biogas. Owners and operators get to reduce emissions cost-effectively without having to retire their fleet, which often still have years of remaining useful life.
She also notes that in addition to lower CO2 emissions, a reduction in the emissions of NOx and other particulates by a factor of twenty was also observed. This also presents an added benefit over the use of HVO. “Burning HVO indeed causes less CO2 emissions than diesel, but it releases just as much NOx and other particulates.
Want to read more about TDC’s retrofit solution? You can read the entire article in our new download magazine, available now.
Rail Infra Forum 2022
The developments in sustainable rolling stock and the associated infrastructure such as recharging and refuelling, are the central theme of the Rail Infra Forum on 12 and 13 October in Berlin. From alternative fuels and batteries in passenger rail to on-track machines, and from recharging batteries under catenary to hydrogen refuelling. The programme and speakers can be found on the event website.