In a move that invites all manner of bad puns, Amtrak has begun testing the first train to operate solely on bio-diesel fuel. The test marks the beginning of a year-long experiment to see if a specially equipped train can run efficiently and problem-free on alternative fuel. According to The Infrastructionist:
The train chosen for the job is the Heartland Flyer, which travels daily between Oklahoma City and Forth Worth, Texas. The Federal Railroad Administration is picking up the tab for the experiment, with a $274,000 grant. The trial is part of a larger environmental initiative meant to highlight Amtrak’s position as a green alternative to air travel
The fuel, which mixes 80 per cent diesel with 20 per cent biofuel, cuts both hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by 10 per cent, according to the company, which said that the fuel also reduces particulates by 15 per cent and sulphates by 20 per cent, compared to standard diesel fuels.
The biodiesel, which was refined from beef byproducts provided by a Texas supplier, will run as a 12-month experiment, during which Amtrak will collect data on emissions, and on the impact of the fuel on mechanical parts. Although technically the fuel mix can run in unmodified trains, the Heartland Flyer was fitted with new engine assemblies so that detailed measurements could be taken to establish the effect of the fuel on the engine.
And now, from Occasional Planet, here’s the opening salvo in the inevitable pun-o-rama [feel free to join in]: It remains to be seen if the notion of running trains on a mix of diesel and beef by-products is a viable idea or just a load of bull.