SwRI debuts world-first rail decarbonization platform
The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has unveiled ALTRIOS, an open-source software platform offering world-first modelling and simulation to assist decarbonization of the rail industry.
The Advanced Locomotive Technology and Rail Infrastructure Optimization System (ALTRIOS) system integrates several facets of rail technology to assess potential pathways to decarbonization. It does this using real-world data and physics to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of various decarbonization technologies like hydrogen, batteries, and biofuels across decades.
“Railroads are using fuel efficiency, renewable fuels and alternate propulsion approaches to achieve the goal. ALTRIOS can cost-effectively assess locomotive decarbonization approaches using computer modelling to help them choose the right technologies for their needs,” Garrett Anderson, a lead engineer in SwRI’s Powertrain Engineering Division, explains.
The system offers Multiple Simulation Modes that can simulate real-world scenarios, by comparing alternative energy locomotive technologies as well as projecting the impact and cost of future infrastructure expansions. By merging train dispatch and corridor simulations with high-level train scheduling/routing tools, the system also provides accurate modelling for energy storage technology and propulsion.
“Southwest Research Institute has extensive expertise in large-scale propulsion systems technologies and closely collaborated with BNSF Railway to test battery-electric locomotives in California,” Jason Lustbader, who leads NREL’s advanced vehicles and charging infrastructure research group, notes. “The SwRI team’s collaboration, knowledge and extensive data processing and modelling helped us to make ALTRIOS the first fully validated, comprehensive model for rail decarbonization.”
The project has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E) and has received funding of US$1.5 million. The researchers behind ALTRIOS estimate that it can help save billions of dollars and help achieve targeted GHG reductions of 40% within the next decade. Steven Fritz, who leads SwRI’s Locomotive Technology Center, notes that it will cost billions of dollars to upgrade existing rail infrastructure and “with that much money on the line, we must carefully evaluate decarbonization proposals to ensure they are efficiently and effectively implemented.”