Rail

Project to attempt building clean passenger locomotive

Posted on May 31, 2012

Photos of locomotive 3463 after (pictured) and before (below) SRI's cosmetic restoration and stabilization. Courtesy of Coalition for Sustainable Rail.
Photos of locomotive 3463 after (pictured) and before (below) SRI's cosmetic restoration and stabilization. Courtesy of Coalition for Sustainable Rail.
Plans to create the world's first carbon-neutral higher-speed locomotive were announced by the Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR), a collaboration of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment (IonE) and the nonprofit Sustainable Rail International (SRI).

CSR draws on the carbon-neutral solid biofuel research expertise of the University of Minnesota and the modern steam mechanical engineering capabilities of SRI to develop the most powerful carbon-neutral locomotive to date.

CSR Project 130 has a simple goal: create the world's cleanest, most powerful passenger locomotive, proving the viability of solid biofuel and modern steam locomotive technology. CSR will put its technology to the test by planning to break the world record for steam locomotive speed, reaching 130 miles per hour and demonstrating the viability of this revolutionary, clean transportation technology.

The locomotive will run on torrefied biomass (biocoal), a biofuel created through an energy-efficient processing of cellulosic biomass. Biocoal exhibits the same energy density and material handling properties as coal, but unlike coal, it is carbon neutral, contains no heavy metals, and produces less ash, smoke and volatile off-gases. Since it exhibits such similar characteristics to coal, biocoal has the potential to revolutionize the way the U.S. generates clean electricity.

Preliminary research shows that CSR's test locomotive will cost less to maintain and less to fuel, and will exhibit greater train handling performance than any diesel-electric locomotives available today. The modern steam locomotive has relied on technology that has been neglected for decades. This is about to change. With the ability to burn biocoal efficiently and without negative impact on the environment, CSR's modern steam locomotive will also exhibit significantly better horsepower output at higher speeds than the current diesel-electric locomotives that pull the majority of passenger trains in the U.S., according to the group.

For more information on the Coalition for Sustainable Rail and CSR Project 130, click here.

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