Feeds

'Biocoal' fuels steam train comeback

Uni of Minnesota steampunks plot loco speed record

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Trainspotters who find the homogenized world of modern locos a bit dull could soon be celebrating the return of steam, if all goes well in a University of Minnesota study.

The university, along with Sustainable Rail International, are to restore a 1930s locomotive – 3463, a 4-6-4 Hudson-type loco built by Baldwin that’s spent its retirement at the Kansas Expocenter in Topeka – as a test bed for bio-coal. The locomotive has already been stabilized prior to the trip to Minnesota for restoration.

If all goes well, the university says, it expects to create the “cleanest, most powerful passenger locomotive”, costing less to maintain and fuel than current diesel-electric locos.

And, since there’s no point in ambitions if you don’t make them big, the consortium also hopes to take the restored loco up to 130 miles per hour (nearly 210 km/h).

Target: 130 mph for restored steamer running on biocoal

Its biocoal – cellular material processed into a solid fuel – exhibits the same energy density and material handling properties as coal, the university says, but without coal’s heavy metals. The biomass is also carbon-neutral, and produces less ash, less smoke (sorry to those for whom the ‘magic of steam’ includes the smell of burning coal), and fewer volatile off-gases.

The Coalition for Sustainable Rail says its “Project 130” will also produce more horsepower at higher speeds than diesel-electric locomotives.

If the project is successful, they note that the demonstration would also show the value of high energy density biocoal in other applications such as power generation. El Reg supposes then all we'd need to worry about is deforestation… ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.