HOTSTART From the Field: Iwate Kaihatsu Railways

January 25, 2013

Iwate Kaihatsu Railways located in Ofunato, Japan operates locomotives that haul cement from the local mine out of the valley to the processing plant in town.  Each locomotive hauls 18 cement cars capable of carrying 35 tons each.  On a normal day, they make 13 trips from the mine to the plant and back.  Complaints from the residents of Ofunato about the excessive engine exhaust smoke each morning spurred Iwate to find a way to reduce their impact on the local environment.

In November 2012, Iwate contacted HOTSTART to see what solutions we could provide to help them with reducing their engine exhaust smoke.  After working with Market Manager Mitsuomi Nakamura on determining the best solution, Iwate purchased a HOTflow™ CSM Engine Heater.  The CSM Engine Heater is designed to pre-heat engine coolant and circulate it through the engine to keep it warm and ready for a quick start-up. 

In January 2013, HOTSTART sent Railroad Field Service Technician Mike Janke to Japan to join Nakamura for a visit to Iwate to install and monitor the HOTflow™ CSM Engine Heater on one of their locomotives.  The Iwate locomotives are equipped with two 6 cylinder 35 liter engines, one on each side of the cab.  The CSM was installed on one of the engines to compare how much engine exhaust smoke would be produced from a pre-heated engine versus a cold-start engine.

Over a 2 ½ hour period, the CSM raised the engine temperature from the ambient temperature to around 80 degrees F, a difference of 35 degrees total.  After starting the heated engine, there was a 50% decrease in engine exhaust smoke.  While that was a great improvement, HOTSTART wanted to see if the CSM would reduce the exhaust even more.  Janke switched out the 6kW heating element with a 9kW element and performed a second test.  The temperature of the engine rose to around 100 degrees F over a 3 ½ hour period.  The engine started on the first crank with the exhaust smoke nearly nonexistent.  In comparison, the second engine on the locomotive that wasn’t heated with a HOTflow™ CSM Engine Heater bellowed out the same amount of engine exhaust smoke that had been the cause of the complaints from the residents. 

The Iwate engineers were very pleased with the reduction in exhaust.  After seeing firsthand the significant improvements from the HOTflow™ CSM Engine Heater, Iwate plans to install the heaters on their four locomotives and have them set on timers so that the engines will be heated and ready to go before the start of each work day.  To see the comparison of the pre-heated engine exhaust smoke versus the non-heated engine, watch the video below shot from the field.