Coalition for Sustainable Rail concludes biofuel tests at Milwaukee zoo

RELATED TOPICS: STEAM/PRESERVATION | MIDWEST | TECHNOLOGY
Trains Industry Newsletter
Get a weekly roundup of the industry news you need.
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine. View our privacy policy.
1924_Grade
The 15-inch-gauge No. 1924 works upgrade at the Milwaukee County Zoo during the Oct. 6 test.
Coalition for Sustainable Rail
MILWAUKEE – The Coalition for Sustainable Rail and the National Resources Research Institute have recorded favorable results in the last of three tests at the Milwaukee County Zoo designed to evaluate biofuel alternatives designed for use in steam locomotives.

The tests are the culmination of a process to develop and produce appropriate fuel at the Renewable Energy Lab in Coleraine, Minn., that lasted more than a year and a half. The Nov. 6 trials on the 15-inch gauge railroad tested and recorded data from two different types of fuel: Torrefied biomass with a binder added to shape it into pellets, and a 50-50 blend of coal and biofuel.

“[The biomass] worked quite well in both locomotives,” Coalition for Sustainable Rail President Davidson Ward says. “Both fuels burned nearly identical to coal, including building a decent coal bed on the grates and maintaining pressure under a wide variety of operational circumstances, while being nearly smoke and odor free.”

As the production and transportation of coal increasingly caters to the needs of bulk consumers, the quantities and grades appropriate for use in steam locomotives have become more expensive to purchase. Some tourist railroad operators see developing alternatives to coal attractive as much as a way to control their budget as their carbon footprint. The materials used in these tests achieved a milestone in reaching temperatures more than 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, comparable to those produced by coal.

“Following the first trials, our researchers set about devising a better method to densify the material, including acquiring an industrial scale densification machine that we installed at our lab in Coleraine,” explained National Resources Research Institute Associate Director and Coalition for Sustainable Rail Board Member Don Fosnacht, Ph.D. “Combined with a food-grade binding agent, we were able to make dense, pill-shaped pellets for use with these zoo test trials that burned exactly like coal.”

The Coalition for Sustainable Rail and National Resources Research Institute are producing 10 tons of the biofuel, which will be transported to Pennsylvania and used to test-fire standard-gauge Everett Railroad 2-6-0 No. 11 in early 2018. In support of these tests, the Coalition will see donations matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis (up to $10,000) until Dec. 15. To donate, go to www.csrail.org/support or mail to Coalition for Sustainable Rail, P.O. Box 3214 Duluth, MN 55803.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

  • Previous Day
  • November 13, 2017
  • Next Day
Leave a Comment
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of TrainsMag.com are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Please keep your feedback on-topic and respectful. Trains staffers reserve the right to edit or delete any comments.
0 COMMENTS
Winter on the Rails

Winter on the Rails

Railroading to the arctic.

SEE INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Learn more about the stories and photos in this months issue

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy
Subscribe Up To 54% off the newsstand price!
Subscribe To Trains Mag Today
+