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Tenders Likely, But Devil’s in the Details

February 25, 2012 in LNG, Rail by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

With high fuel use and ample, already industrialized land for siting liquefaction facilities, often located where truck traffic represents a ready additional market (F&F, Jan. 30), railroads are prime candidates for liquefied natural gas.

California's Napa Valley Wine Train runs on a mix of diesel and CNG.

Railroads running LNG to offset their diesel costs may use tenders, a dedicated car behind the locomotive for carrying fuel (tenders have historically carried coal, and/or water for steam engines).

But there are fundamental questions. Would the new cryogenic fuel be vaporized on the tender or on the locomotive? Would LNG as a liquid have to cross the coupling? Or just vaporized natural gas? Standardization will be important: “What you don’t want is two different tender cars,” says one expert.

Details aside, for long-haul trains using LNG, “Tendering is going to be a necessity,” says Cory Thomas of BNSF Railway. BNSF is the agglomeration of nearly 400 different railroad lines that merged or were acquired over the course of more than 160 years.

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Caption: California’s Napa Valley Wine Train runs on a mix of diesel and CNG

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