Southwest Research Institute has launched a tool for the freight rail industry

Southwest Research Institute has launched a tool for the freight rail industry
© swri.org

The software is set to reshape the rail decarbonization landscape by providing a comprehensive platform for assessing and implementing alternative energy locomotive technologies and associated infrastructure changes.


Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has unveiled a solution for the freight rail industry's journey to decarbonization. Introducing ALTRIOS, the Advanced Locomotive Technology and Rail Infrastructure Optimization System, this open-source modeling and simulation software is set to revolutionize the assessment of decarbonization strategies within the rail sector.

ALTRIOS enables rail industry stakeholders to chart the path to reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improved efficiency. The software simulates the real-world impacts and costs associated with introducing alternative energy locomotive technologies and developing related infrastructure. ALTRIOS emerged from funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E) under the LOCOMOTIVES program. This initiative, aimed at optimizing train infrastructure, vehicles, and energy storage, received a substantial investment of $1.5 million. 

ALTRIOS combines locomotive and energy storage technology modeling with a suite of train dispatching, corridor simulation, and high-level planning tools. Using a physics-based simulation approach, the software evaluates a variety of decarbonization technologies, including hydrogen, biofuels, batteries, and more, across the United States over decades.

“The Class-I North American railroads have already committed to reducing their GHG emissions by setting science-based carbon reduction targets,” said Garrett Anderson, a lead engineer in SwRI’s Powertrain Engineering Division. “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 modeling to help them choose the right technologies for their needs.”

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