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Classic 1937 steam engine will run on biomass

For the CSR project, the engineers acquired a 1937 model steam locomotive from its former owner, Great Overland Station in Topeka, Kansas, this past November.

Most would think a classic 1937 steam engine has no place in the modern rail industry apart from being just a nice museum piece!

A collaboration named Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) between Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE) and the nonprofit Sustainable Rail International (SRI) is working to revive the old world transportation technology to make it the world’s first carbon-neutral higher-speed locomotive.

It will be powered not be electric but steam generated by the burning of biocoal.

Davidison Ward, president of CSR said, “Currently there are no steam locomotives working in revenue passenger service (aside from train museums). This project is a first step toward refining modern steam locomotive technology.”

To modify the 1937 model into a modern steam engine, it will be powered by "biocoal," a biofuel created by roasting, biomass (such as wood) leading to energy-efficient solid, dry, blackened material.

The CSR project
The aim of the CSR project is not only to create the world's cleanest locomotive but also the most powerful one when compared to the diesel electrics used in today world.

The team is attempting to break the world record for steam locomotive speed, which is currently 126 MPH by building a locomotive that can reach speeds of 130 miles per hour.



For the CSR project the engineers acquired a 1937 model steam locomotive from its former owner, Great Overland Station in Topeka, Kansas, this past November.

To modify the 1937 model into a modern steam engine, it will be powered by "biocoal," a biofuel created by roasting, biomass (such as wood) leading to energy-efficient solid, dry, blackened material.

Biocoal has coal properties but is a carbon-neutral and contains no heavy metals. Moreover it is environment-friendly and produces less ash, smoke and volatile off-gases.

Rod Larkins, Special Projects Director of IonE’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment stated, “Participation in the Coalition for Sustainable Rail has enabled our team to pursue one of the more exciting and potentially groundbreaking research projects in the history of IonE."

“Once perfected, creating the world’s first carbon-neutral locomotive will be just the beginning for this technology which, we hope, will later be used for combined heat and power energy in the developing world as well as reducing the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels.”