Beef-based biofuel? Amtrak approves

Amtrak says biofuel made from processed beef fat performed well in an 80/20 blend with diesel. It could help the railroad avoid importing fuel from abroad.

National railroad operator Amtrak insisted yesterday that there are "no ill effects" from powering their Heartland Flyer train with diesel fuel mixed with beef tallow, a refined form of fat from cows used in soap.

Using the renewable biodiesel blend resulted in "no more wear on the locomotive" than conventional diesel fuels. Performance from the 3,200-horsepower engine remained the same, even as the railroad replaced 35,000 fallons of diesel with the stuff. Fewer emissions were also observed.

That's good news, since the operator spent more than a year testing the B20 -- as in 20 percent biofuel, 80 percent diesel -- blend at a General Electric facility in Erie, Penn. (GE is the manufacturer of the P32-8 locomotive used during testing.)

Amtrak received a $274,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to research the cattle-based biofuel in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. (The Heartland Flyer connects Oklahoma City with Fort Worth.)

The goal: to find an alternative to fuel that must be imported from abroad.

The results were presented last week at a railroad environmental conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

[via AP]

Photo: Amtrak

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