Some American railroads going to 100% biofuel.

JonMyrlennBailey

Active member
This fuel is grown by farmers!


If I owned a nostalgic American railroad, I would convert my GM/EMD classics to biodiesel as well and also have steam locomotives customized to burn this fuel. Biodisel is much cleaner than fossul fuels and it is 100% renewable energy.

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KINGSTON, N.Y. — The Catskill Mountain Railroad has converted its locomotives to run on 100% biodiesel fuel and says it is the first heritage railroad in the country to do so, the railroad has announced.

The railroad operates with a pair of Alco locomotives. RS1 No. 401 was built in March 1950 for the Illinois Terminal Railroad and later property of the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, Illinois Central Gulf, and Green Mountain Railway. S1 No. 407 was built in 1946 for the Long Island Rail Road, moved to the Staten Island Railway in 1977, and was acquired by the Catskill Mountain Railroad from a broker in 2010.

Biodiesel fuel reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 74%, carbon monoxide by almost 50%, and hydrocarbon emissions by almost 70%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The railroad is being supplied by local firm NetZero Biofuels.

More information on the railroad’s sustainability program is available here.
 
While I applaud the move, bio-fuels are not the ultimate solution. They create other problems and do not necessarily reduce Carbon pollution despite the impressive reduction figures you quoted.

They are obviously made from plants but to produce the quantities that would be needed requires a lot of land clearing, loss of biodiversity and soil degradation - all of which actually increases Carbon pollution. Massive land clearing for a single non-edible crop, in particular, has been shown to reduce the food supply and increase poverty in poorer countries where the climate is better suited for growing these types of crops.

While bio-fuels can be produced in a sustainable manner, unlike fossil fuels, their use still involves combustion - taking Oxygen out of the air and releasing pollutants.

Green Hydrogen fuel (i.e. Hydrogen that is not made from coal or oil) is a far better solution and while it still takes Oxygen out of the air, its only waste product is water.

My environmental thoughts.
 
Bio-diesel also comes from greasy fryolators. Restaurants dump their waste oil, made from corn or Canola into huge barrels that are carted off and oil is refined before being used as fuel. Just think, you might smell old French fries or fish and chips someday when a train passes by.
 
AG
While I applaud the move, bio-fuels are not the ultimate solution. They create other problems and do not necessarily reduce Carbon pollution despite the impressive reduction figures you quoted.

They are obviously made from plants but to produce the quantities that would be needed requires a lot of land clearing, loss of biodiversity and soil degradation - all of which actually increases Carbon pollution. Massive land clearing for a single non-edible crop, in particular, has been shown to reduce the food supply and increase poverty in poorer countries where the climate is better suited for growing these types of crops.

While bio-fuels can be produced in a sustainable manner, unlike fossil fuels, their use still involves combustion - taking Oxygen out of the air and releasing pollutants.

Green Hydrogen fuel (i.e. Hydrogen that is not made from coal or oil) is a far better solution and while it still takes Oxygen out of the air, its only waste product is water.

My environmental thoughts.
I agree with your opinion @pware. One other downside of biofuels, at least corn-based ones, is the fact that it could increase the already overblown amount of corn produced. That could also potentially negate the reduced pollution due to all the farm equipment needed to produce said corn.

Cheers
 
AG

I agree with your opinion @pware. One other downside of biofuels, at least corn-based ones, is the fact that it could increase the already overblown amount of corn produced. That could also potentially negate the reduced pollution due to all the farm equipment needed to produce said corn.

Cheers
Biofuels should only be used in limited applications where batteries or electric would be not practical or even possible as in jet aviation. Biofuels are great for a fun railroad where you want to continue to use vintage combustible-fuel locos for nostalgia but want a renewable energy source still. Most modern railways can be electrified and have nuclear power plants supplying them with current. Farmers can use EV tractors running on solid-state batteries to cultivate crops for biofuels. Most everything on the ground can be powered by electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind, river, tide and nuclear. My goal is to get away from fossil fuels for good as the global supply of them won't last too much longer. Sea ships for freight can be nuclear powered like naval warships.

-nuclear power
-biofuels which are renewable
-green hydrogen
-hydroelectric power, rivers and sea tides
-solar power
-wind power
 
As well as the fuel burnt to produce the heat needed to extract and refine the oils from the corn.
Which could be done by electric equipment running off nukes. Steel is even made in electric furnaces. How much energy is consumed refining petroleum anyway?
 
Which could be done by electric equipment running off nukes. Steel is even made in electric furnaces.
Steel making requires carbon to be added and, as a result, it produces carbon dioxide. The carbon (usually in the form of coke) is added to the molten iron to increase its strength and turn it into steel. During the conversion of molten iron to molten steel, regardless of how it is heated, the final step involves blowing oxygen into the iron and carbon mixture to burn off the excess carbon as carbon dioxide.

On the question of using nukes to generate nuclear power, Australia is probably the only major nation without any nuclear power stations. We have a small nuclear reactor that is used to make isotopes for medicine and research but it produces no electric power. I, and according to opinion surveys most others here, do not want nuclear power plants - too long and too expensive to build and decommission, power generated costs more per MWhr, and then there is the "minor" issue of the radioactive wastes.
 
Steel making requires carbon to be added and, as a result, it produces carbon dioxide. The carbon (usually in the form of coke) is added to the molten iron to increase its strength and turn it into steel. During the conversion of molten iron to molten steel, regardless of how it is heated, the final step involves blowing oxygen into the iron and carbon mixture to burn off the excess carbon as carbon dioxide.

On the question of using nukes to generate nuclear power, Australia is probably the only major nation without any nuclear power stations. We have a small nuclear reactor that is used to make isotopes for medicine and research but it produces no electric power. I, and according to opinion surveys most others here, do not want nuclear power plants - too long and too expensive to build and decommission, power generated costs more per MWhr, and then there is the "minor" issue of the radioactive wastes.
Radioactive wastes can be blasted into space on board a rocket ship possibly on a mission anyway to deal with a communications satellite to make this disposal cost effective. It still makes more eco sense to go nuke energy than continuing to use fossil fuels. Fossil fuels will not be around forever. In America, both Democratic and Republican majorities are calling for expanding nuclear energy no matter what the cost is in money. The earth is covered in 70% water for plenty of reactor cooling provisions. I just paid an electric bill in Iowa the other day. A mere 940 KWH at 130 American dollars! Middle America states largely burn fossil fuels to power homes here. They raise electricity rates up in the summer coz gasoline (crude oil, petroleum) prices go up accordingly.
 
Radioactive wastes can be blasted into space on board a rocket ship possibly on a mission anyway to deal with a communications satellite to make this disposal cost effective.

In the 1950s there were serious suggestions being made (by politicians no less) to use atomic weapons to dig shipping canals, to remove mountains and cheaply do all sorts large geoengineering works. I wonder why none of them ever eventuated?

Likewise in the early days of nuclear power there were serious proposals to use rockets to shoot the nuclear waste into the sun, crash it onto the moon or just generally blast it into space. I again wonder why these "solutions" were never used. Oh yeah, what if the rocket launch failed and it came crashing back into the Earth? The success rate of rocket launches is, after all these years, still not at a confidence building level.

Rockets have been known to explode on the launchpad or shortly after launch (e.g. Space Shuttle Challenger). Not even Elon Musk's SpaceX recent launches have been without incidents.

If a waste carrying space capsule failed to reach Earth orbit (another not infrequent problem) and burnt up in the atmosphere on reentry then you would be scattering the radioactive atoms over a much wider area. Recently an old Apollo booster rocket that was thought to have headed out into space "never to return" has done just that - returned. Instead of being lost forever it was on a decades long orbit that eventually returned it to its starting point - Earth. As for using the Moon as a dumping ground for dangerous wastes, I am sure that future generations would thank us for our wisdom and forethought.

It still makes more eco sense to go nuke energy than continuing to use fossil fuels. Fossil fuels will not be around forever. In America, both Democratic and Republican majorities are calling for expanding nuclear energy no matter what the cost is in money.

You could make out an argument that a nuclear power plant is less polluting than a coal or gas fired power plant but that only applies during its operation. What happens when the plant has reached the end of its useful life and has to be decommissioned? What do you do with the tons of cooling pipes and other structures that are inside the reactor and, after years of exposure, are now highly radioactive? It is not just the spent fuel rods that have to be safely disposed of.

For me nuclear power stations bring up memories of Windscale/Sellafield (UK, 1957), 3 Mile Island (USA, 1979), Chernobyl (Ukraine, 1986), Fukushima (Japan, 2011) and at least 24 others listed at Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents_and_incidents (about half of those listed are in the USA). The only nuclear power option that I would consider is fusion based - but after 60 years of promises that a working fusion reactor is "just 20-30 years away" I am not holding my breath.

At the end of last year we installed solar panels on our roof - 10.1 kW of solar power at maximum sun. Our power bills since then have been cut by 30-40%. Later this year we will be looking at adding a compatible battery to store the excess power generated during the day and use it at night. A battery powered car is also on the list to be considered. For us, and the majority of people here according to surveys, renewables not nuclear is the path forward.

While biofuels are not without problems and are far from perfect, they are at least a step in the right direction.
 
I am curious what France does with its nuclear waste. I believe France is fairly big into nuclear power. Here in the U. S. they are looking at the nuclear power plant technology from submarines and aircraft carriers to build small modular power reactors for rural areas. Not sure quite how it will work or what the waste situation will be, but it sounds interesting.
 
The concerns regarding nuclear power are strong here in eastern Massachusetts. We have the Seabrook power plant located over the border in Seabrook, New Hampshire which is 3.7 miles (6 km) from Salisbury, MA. This was a controversial power plant to start with when the plant was forced in against the will of the people. Against the will of the people as in the then NH governor Thompson calling their national guard to "clear protesters" from the site. The protesters came from both sides of the border.

Here in Massachusetts, Salisbury's population grows 20-fold in the summer due to the beaches and campgrounds with limited road access in and out of the area. I-495 terminates at Salisbury where it intersects I-95. State route 286 runs out to the beaches, and old state route 110 terminates there at a rotary that intersects US Rt.1 and US Rt. 1A.

During the summer months, I-495 is backed up nearly 40 miles (64 km) or more as tourists and people go to the beaches with many more tied up at the Hampton NH toll booths as people head to nearby Hampton Beach and Rye Beach on that side of the border. When people leave the beaches, the traffic streams constantly for hours way into the wee hours of the night with people sitting in the traffic jam on the interstate.

On the opposite side of the Merrimack River from Salisbury is Plum Island and Newburyport. These areas have no main roads. I-95 is located way outside of Newburyport center and there's only US Rt. 1A and US 1 with a single access road to Plum Island which is a barrier island that's jammed to the gills in the summer.

Further south, other towns show concern for the same reason with Newbury, Rowley, Essex, and Ipswich right in the path with no escape. Ipswich has no main roads with a twisting 17th century main street and Essex isn't much better.

Many of the local farms had to give up their livelihood due to radiation concerns. Among the largest was Applecrest Farms, which has been in existence since the early 1800s, gave up its orchards and farms. Today, they exist as a farmstand selling purchased goods from elsewhere rather than their own grown goods. Before the plant was built, we used to purchase apples and pears from Applecrest, during their orchard festival when they had pick-your-own events.

The thing is, living with this constant threat that something might go wrong at any time is not fun. As it is, the construction was shoddy and many repairs had to be done to the plant prior to bringing it online. The plant is to remain in operation until 2050.
 
All of this discussion about nuclear power raises one theory in my mind. Fossil fuels will never be good for the environment, but we’re not talking about nuclear reactors powering machines directly. Reactors in this context are for generating electricity. And the thing is, if we lean too heavily on electricity to power “most everything on the ground,” we will:
  • Be reliant on the people that control that power (more so than we already are anyway).
  • Be extremely vulnerable if a power grid goes down, as every EV in its region would be completely useless. Electric railroads, farms etc. would be completely down.
  • Be less safe on the road. Electric cars are much heavier than their internal combustion cousins, and I have read that during collision tests on an electric Rivian SUV the car plowed through a guard rail as if it wasn’t there (the cabin was undamaged as well). The large batteries are also subject to fire in accidents.
While we can’t use fossil fuels forever, my belief is that we shouldn’t turn over to electricity too quickly.

Cheers
 
While we can’t use fossil fuels forever, my belief is that we shouldn’t turn over to electricity too quickly.
An interesting point of view but the same could be said about fossil fuels. I do recall the "Oil Crisis" of the 1970s when the major world producers/exporters cut their oil supply. Gas (petrol) rationing and limits to purchases were introduced. "No Gas" signs were common at gas stations. The crisis (there was more than one in the 70s) was not due to technical problems but because of political events in the middle east- the Yom Kippur War (1973) and the Iranian Revolution (1979). Ominously, both areas are "flash points" again today.

If we decide to get an EV it will be powered (recharged) from our solar panels and (proposed) battery system. One problem EVs have here is the lack of charging stations. On a visit to the UK a few years ago we noticed that the street lamp posts outside where we were staying in London had built-in EV charging points. True, these would be vulnerable to power outages and in northern Europe (including the UK) the sun is not as much of a reliable source of power as it is here.
 
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I am curious what France does with its nuclear waste. I believe France is fairly big into nuclear power. Here in the U. S. they are looking at the nuclear power plant technology from submarines and aircraft carriers to build small modular power reactors for rural areas. Not sure quite how it will work or what the waste situation will be, but it sounds interesting.

After a bit of research:

For the spent nuclear fuel rods they recycle them to extract usable Uranium for new fuel rods. For the remaining high level material that is left they process into a form of glass (vitrification), place them in stainless steel containers and store them 500m underground in a stable geological structure until a safe disposal method can be found [how long that will take who knows?] I could find no information on disposing of the contaminated materials (e.g. pipes, etc) produced from the decommissioning of nuclear plants (assuming that they have started that process).
 
All of this discussion about nuclear power raises one theory in my mind. Fossil fuels will never be good for the environment, but we’re not talking about nuclear reactors powering machines directly. Reactors in this context are for generating electricity. And the thing is, if we lean too heavily on electricity to power “most everything on the ground,” we will:
  • Be reliant on the people that control that power (more so than we already are anyway).
  • Be extremely vulnerable if a power grid goes down, as every EV in its region would be completely useless. Electric railroads, farms etc. would be completely down.
  • Be less safe on the road. Electric cars are much heavier than their internal combustion cousins, and I have read that during collision tests on an electric Rivian SUV the car plowed through a guard rail as if it wasn’t there (the cabin was undamaged as well). The large batteries are also subject to fire in accidents.
While we can’t use fossil fuels forever, my belief is that we shouldn’t turn over to electricity too quickly.

Cheers
The new solid-state batteries will make EV automobiles lighter and much fire-safer. We need a serious plan to wean off fossil fuels perhaps by 2050. Uranium fuel material is also recyclable. There is no need to decommission a reactor. Just renew the fuel rods and continue to use.



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In the 1950s there were serious suggestions being made (by politicians no less) to use atomic weapons to dig shipping canals, to remove mountains and cheaply do all sorts large geoengineering works. I wonder why none of them ever eventuated?

Likewise in the early days of nuclear power there were serious proposals to use rockets to shoot the nuclear waste into the sun, crash it onto the moon or just generally blast it into space. I again wonder why these "solutions" were never used. Oh yeah, what if the rocket launch failed and it came crashing back into the Earth? The success rate of rocket launches is, after all these years, still not at a confidence building level.

Rockets have been known to explode on the launchpad or shortly after launch (e.g. Space Shuttle Challenger). Not even Elon Musk's SpaceX recent launches have been without incidents.

If a waste carrying space capsule failed to reach Earth orbit (another not infrequent problem) and burnt up in the atmosphere on reentry then you would be scattering the radioactive atoms over a much wider area. Recently an old Apollo booster rocket that was thought to have headed out into space "never to return" has done just that - returned. Instead of being lost forever it was on a decades long orbit that eventually returned it to its starting point - Earth. As for using the Moon as a dumping ground for dangerous wastes, I am sure that future generations would thank us for our wisdom and forethought.



You could make out an argument that a nuclear power plant is less polluting than a coal or gas fired power plant but that only applies during its operation. What happens when the plant has reached the end of its useful life and has to be decommissioned? What do you do with the tons of cooling pipes and other structures that are inside the reactor and, after years of exposure, are now highly radioactive? It is not just the spent fuel rods that have to be safely disposed of.

For me nuclear power stations bring up memories of Windscale/Sellafield (UK, 1957), 3 Mile Island (USA, 1979), Chernobyl (Ukraine, 1986), Fukushima (Japan, 2011) and at least 24 others listed at Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents_and_incidents (about half of those listed are in the USA). The only nuclear power option that I would consider is fusion based - but after 60 years of promises that a working fusion reactor is "just 20-30 years away" I am not holding my breath.

At the end of last year we installed solar panels on our roof - 10.1 kW of solar power at maximum sun. Our power bills since then have been cut by 30-40%. Later this year we will be looking at adding a compatible battery to store the excess power generated during the day and use it at night. A battery powered car is also on the list to be considered. For us, and the majority of people here according to surveys, renewables not nuclear is the path forward.

While biofuels are not without problems and are far from perfect, they are at least a step in the right direction.
HOUSTON, WE HAVE AN ENERGY PROBLEM HERE ON PLANET EARTH.

WE SHOULD NOT TACKLE THE ENERGY PROBLEM BECAUSE IT IS EASY. WE SHOULD TACKLE IT BECAUSE IT IS HARD.

President John F. Kennedy said something similar about man's going to the moon.
 
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