December 1, 2010

FRA awards bio-based fuels, lubricants grants

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded two research grants totaling $766,562 intended to advance the use of bio-based fuels and lubricants with the goal of cleaner air and decreasing the nation's dependence on fossil fuels.

North Carolina State University received $395,189 to continue its research into the use of biofuels for freight and passenger rail operations, which will result in a possible recommendation of a "premium" biofuel blend for locomotive engines.

In addition, the National Ag-based Lubricant Center at the University of Northern Iowa received $371,373 to study the feasibility of using readily biodegradable soy-based lubricants by freight and passenger railroads.

"FRA has a long history of funding research to make railroads more energy efficient and cleaner," said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. "One of our most successful initiatives is now in revenue service on Amtrak's Heartland Flyer route."

With a $274,000 FRA grant, Amtrak equipped a Heartland Flyer train operating between Oklahoma City, Okla. and Ft. Worth, Texas to run on a biodiesel blend known as B20, which is 20 percent pure biofuel and 80 percent diesel. The success of this locomotive led Time magazine to include the train in its list of "The 50 Best Inventions of 2010."

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