Progress Rail, Vale Develop Battery Switcher

Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, announced it has developed a new battery-powered switcher locomotive to be available globally, working in collaboration with its South American customer, Vale.

The zero-emission, zero-idle and low noise EMD Joule locomotive broadens Progress Rail’s rolling stock portfolio with the latest smart lithium-ion battery technology and reliable performance for instant start within yard applications.

The new switcher includes battery capacity being delivered to Vale of 1.9 MW hours, and could reach up to 2.4 MW hours with additional options available. The switcher has nominal power up to 3000 hp, and a run time of up to 24 hours, depending upon charging and utilization.

The new EMD Joule will go into a pilot phase this year, with full service anticipated for Vale soon thereafter, supporting operations at its Tubarão yard. Vale shared that this development contributes to its ambitious goals of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 33% by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

With the multitude of next-generation technologies being introduced, Progress Rail began addressing industry challenges with Vale, along with the companies’ collective Brazilian engineering teams and Progress Rail’s U.S.-based locomotive engineers, to deliver a solution they said has ample power and charging capabilities.

“Our team has taken great pride in this exciting project, working closely with Vale to deliver a new advanced technology battery locomotive in approximately 11 months,” said Marty Haycraft, president and CEO of Progress Rail. “This locomotive will help Vale achieve their emissions objectives.

“We look forward to continuing to support our entire global customer base with innovative products and services to help them meet their operating and environmental objectives.”

The new switcher includes battery capacity being delivered to Vale of 1.9 MW-hr and could reach up to 2.4 MW-hr with additional options available, Progress Rail said. The switcher has nominal power up to 3000 hp, and a run time of up to 24 hours, depending upon charging and utilization.

According to Gustavo Bastos, executive manager at Vale’s Excellence Center and Innovation department, the EMD Joule will be also an important step towards the development of solutions for Vale’s GHG reduction plans. “This equipment represents a milestone in Vale’s operations decarbonization strategy and is aligned with its new pact with society,” says Bastos.

Progress Rail anticipates global availability of the new switcher locomotive in early 2021.

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