Beef byproduct helps fuel Amtrak train test

by Bryan Salvage
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Amtrak and the Oklahoma and Texas state transportation departments recently announced the nation’s first-ever test of a cleaner, renewable biodiesel fuel blend containing beef byproduct to power a daily interstate passenger train between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth. The goal of this 12-month test is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use of foreign oil.

The Federal Railroad Administration awarded Amtrak a $274,000 grant from to carry out the research project in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on the daily Heartland Flyer train operated by Amtrak with state support from both Oklahoma and Texas. The biodiesel blend includes beef byproduct provided by Direct Fuels of Euless, Texas, a BQ9000 registered producer.

In previously conducted stationary locomotive engine testing, the biodiesel blend known as B20 (20% pure biofuel and 80% diesel) reduced hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide each by 10%, reduced particulates by 15% and sulfates by 20%. Detailed measurements will be taken on the P32-8 locomotive at the end of 12 months so any impact of the biodiesel on valves and gaskets can be measured.

Amtrak will collect locomotive exhaust emissions data for analysis in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency locomotive exhaust emissions federal test protocols.

“Amtrak travel is already more energy efficient than most other forms of intercity transportation,” said Roy Deitchman, Amtrak vice president, Environmental, Health and Safety. “If the test shows this use of a renewable fuel in our locomotive is successful, it’s a home run for our passengers, for our partners and for the planet.”

At events timed with the train’s morning departure from Oklahoma City and noontime arrival in Fort Worth, officials attached a version of the Amtrak “green seal” to the 3,200-horsepower locomotive that powers the train and compared samples of diesel and biodiesel fuels.

The Texas Beef Council was on hand at one event in Fort Worth to provide information and materials to passengers, explaining cattle provide many products -- in addition to beef -- and this example of two industries utilizing unique resources to power interstate transportation.

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