Wabtec

Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives were in Pittsburgh Sept. 10 for the company’s Freight 2030 event.

Wabtec is leaping into the world of electric locomotive technology.

The Pittsburgh company, which has a locomotive engine plant in Grove City, recently unveiled a prototype locomotive that runs on battery-electric power versus conventional diesel engines.

Dubbed the FLXdrive, the first locomotive is set to begin service in 2023. This locomotive has more than twice the power than a version tested earlier this year.

The company’s Grove City plant, formerly owned by General Electric, produces diesel locomotive engines. It’s not clear yet how the plant will be involved in producing the new locomotive, Tim Bader, a Wabtec spokesman said Friday.

“We’re not sure yet where all of the work is going,’’ Bader said of the new locomotive’s production.

But the Grove City plant has a 3D manufacturing laboratory, he noted.

This technology allows a plant to create three-dimensional solid objectsfrom a computer digital file. A “printer’’ is used to create the part.

Unlike common office printers that use liquid ink or toner powder, manufacturing printers can use heavier materials such as metals. Tiny layers, far thinner than razor blades, use materials that stick together to create a solid object. The final product can be anything from a simple hinge to eyewear.

The FLXdrive has a cruise control system that responds to every curve and grade of the track in the most energy-efficient way possible, the company said.

In addition to producing the locomotive, Wabtec is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to create technology to eliminate carbon emissions in the rail transportation industry.

“Controlling emissions is critical in the fight against climate change,” Rogerio Mendonca, president of freight equipment for Wabtec said in the news release. “The FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive is a bold step toward a low-to-zero-emission locomotive future.’’

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