Amtrak has unveiled the nation's first biodiesel train, with a surprise twist -- the fuel is derived from beef byproducts. The Heartland Flyer train will conduct its biofuel trial run for a year between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, The Guardian reports.
Previous tests with a stationary locomotive engine showed that the B20 biodiesel blend -- 20 percent biofuel and 80 percent diesel -- cut back on hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide each by 10 percent. It also reduced particulates by 15 percent and sulfates by 20 percent.
Unmodified trains can use the B20 fuel mix. But the Heartland Flyer locomotive was outfitted with new engine assemblies to provide a clean slate for engineers to gauge any wear or tear at the end of the trial. Some biofuel blends can increase stress on engines, while others burn even cleaner than normal fuel and actually boost engine durability.
Amtrak's test run draws upon a $274,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration. The company previously started other green initiatives such as reducing idling times for diesel trains, and adding regenerative braking systems to electric trains.
A greener train sounds great in theory, although we do have to wonder about the viability of spreading this beef-fueled approach. Sure, it may benefit certain regions around Oklahoma and Texas where a cattle industry produces beef byproducts as waste regardless. But it's hard to imagine corn-fed cattle as an environmentally friendly stock for widespread biofuel usage, especially when some scientists already fret over the economic and environmental impact of making biofuel directly from corn.
[via The Guardian]
I have liked trains since I was four. And Amtrak was the first railroad company I have heard of. I hope this succeeds.
And I got first comment! LOL
They will NOW be able to CLAIM 'carbon credits' for the cattle INSTEAD of having to PAY carbon credits.
They pay because of the damage done to our environment DUE TO the cattle raising for meat.
This 'developement' will come as a 'surprise' to those people who are ardent nonconsumers of animal products.
One might wonder when this developement becomes well known will it DAMAGE business ?
I'd be afraid of animal activists.
I just hope it doesn't smell bad...
Good grief. Probably a certain amount of animal fat is available because they just don't need it.
So, they're likely reducing emissions and solving a disposal problem win - win.
Nobody said that it's a universal solution, but maybe it's viable in at least a limited sense.
Any of you consider that by-products may not be cruel it could just be harvested gases released from all the fecal matter or collected directly from the cows flatulence. They were talking about harvesting gases from cattle a while ago maybe this is the end product of that idea.
Hope you don't flag me for linking to one of your past articles.
If we've got a viable use of biofuels, but scientists are worried about corn based biofuel, how's this for an alternative - industrial hemp!
It's time for right wing Christians to get off their stigma of worrying about marijuana and allow industrial hemp to be legalized for just such a use as this!
Break our addiction to oil! :-D
By byproducts they are talking about the fat and grease left behind by processing meat. Since everyone wants lean beef but its near impossible to raise cattle without letting them gain fat the excess fat is thrown out. This fat is oily and can be processed into biodiesel just like any other natural oils.
As for the argument against corn, I'd like to see you try. Corn is a staple in the Midwest. Everyone knows how to do it and do it well. We do it so well in fact that there is ALWAYS a surplus amount of corn left each year. The equipment, storage, and logistics are all set up for corn and soybeans. Trying to introduce a different crop is going to be like pulling teeth. And for anyone who would like to argue that growing corn is destroying the environment I'd like to bring you out to the farm sometime so you can see how much corn you get with such little petrolium, fertilizer included. It would blow your mind.