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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

NS chooses soybean-based grease as rail-lubricant alternative


To reduce rail-side and wheel-flange wear, Norfolk Southern Railway recently began using SoyTrakâ„¢, a biodegradable soybean oil-based grease designed as an alternative to petroleum-based rail lubricants.

NS' research and test department and the University of Northern Iowa's Ag-Based Industrial Lubricants Research Program, in partnership with exclusive supplier Portec Rail Products Inc., spent three years researching SoyTrak, which is formulated from U.S.-grown soybean oils and additives,
and produced by Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing.

"Soybean grease is better for the environment, competitively priced and very effective," said John Samuels, NS senior vice president of operations planning and support, in a prepared statement. "It can increase the life of
rail on curves substantially."

NS is using a summer- and winter-grade blend; the partners are developing an all-season blend.

"SoyTrak decomposes through natural processes in a matter of weeks after application, so it's beneficial for the environment," said Don Cregger, NS manager of project engineering.

In 1998, SoyTrak was field tested by Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd. NS then tested the grease for winter performance and formally approved its use in December. The railroad plans to purchase more than 1.5 million pounds of the lubricant.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/24/2003