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Indiana Rail Road helps fund research on converting used ties into biofuel

The Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) today announced it's initiating research on the conversion of used railroad ties into an advanced biofuel in partnership with the Indiana Rail Road Co. (INRD).

Through an INRD grant, CSR plans to analyze the viability of “upcycling” used wood ties into biofuel. Working with the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, CSR aims to determine the viability of converting some of the 15 million ties removed on U.S. railroads each year into a clean-burning coal alternative.

"INRD is dedicated to innovation and technology, and its investment in our primary research is an inspiration to the entire team," said CSR President Davidson Ward in a press release.

Using a biomass processing technique known as torrefaction, NRRI and CSR researchers seek to convert the structure of used ties into a clean, renewable, homogenous and densifiable biofuel, CSR officials said. The resulting "pelletized biofuel" could be used by power plants, they said.
Initial research will be targeted at identifying any hurdles to the upcycling of ties to fuel, including the disposition of wood preservatives found in railroad ties. 

"This important research impacts not only the future of energy in the U.S., but it honors the tradition of American innovation, from the reconstruction and modernization of an iconic steam locomotive to the biofuel development associated with our donation," said INRD President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Hoback. "This is something that I believe could lead to a key development in the future of the railroad industry."

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More News from 4/14/2014