Plug-in electric cars make plenty of sense now. But a train? Norfolk Southern just unveiled their prototype locomotive, the 100% battery-powered NS 999.
Developed in partnership with the US Department of Energy, the Federal Railroad Administration and Penn State, the barreling green beast won't be carrying a diesel engine like other trains. Instead, it's going to roll using a 1,500 horsepower electric motor, powered exclusively by a 1,080 units of 12-volt lead-acid batteries.
The Norfolk Southern NS 999 can carry the same load as an equally-sized switching train and costs around the same price to build, making it a logical replacement for traditional gas-guzzling choo-choos. It draws power directly from the grid and picks up trickles of energy from regenerative braking.
Battery life is carefully monitored through a computer-based management system, assuring safe and continuous operation. A single two-hour charge will let it operate for an entire 24 hours (three shifts), with weekly calibrations required for optimal use.
While not yet operational, the zero-emissions prototype seems like a feasible idea. In fact, the team has already secured an initial $1.3 million funding for further development and testing. More than likely, this thing should debut in one of Norfolk Southern's routes among its 22 service states sometime soon.