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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Amtrak: No ill effects from renewable biodiesel fuel on Heartland Flyer


Amtrak’s use of a renewable biodiesel fuel blend to power its Heartland Flyer train resulted in no more wear on the locomotive than that caused by traditional diesel fuels, Amtrak officials said in a research paper presented last week at a railroad environmental conference held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The blend also didn’t reduce performance or reliability.

In addition, the blend of 20 percent biofuel and 80 percent diesel performed below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emission limits for the class of locomotive, the research found.

“The trial design included one year of testing, evaluating the engine and gasket wear, determining the quality of air emissions and regularly monitoring the quality of the biodiesel fuel,” said Roy Deitchman, Amtrak’s vice president of environmental, health and safety.

Amtrak received a $274,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to conduct the research project in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Tests were conducted on a train operated by Amtrak daily, with state support from Oklahoma and Texas. The biodiesel fuel was provided by a Texas vendor and Chevron Oronite helped evaluate the fuel and engine component.