Positive Results for Amtrak Tests on Beef-Powered Train

The Washington Post has recently reported that Amtrak has reported positive results after testing fuel mixed with beef tallow to power a 3,200-horsepower passenger train engine. Beef tallow is rendered form of beef fat that is solid at room temperature and with a $274,000 federal grant from the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak has been testing a mix of diesel fuel and beef tallow to power their Heartland Flyer train.  A year of tests on the Heartland Flyer, which travels between Oklahoma and Fort Worth, Texas, showed no problems with use of the cattle-based biodiesel fuel.  In fact, Amtrak’s results, which were revealed at an environmental conference at the University of Illinois, actually showed less pollution than pure diesel fuel and met federal emission standards.  In addition to reduced pollution, the beef tallow diesel fuel also did not create any premature wear on gaskets or other engine components, which was a concern with animal-based product being used in the train engine.

The future prospects of these cattle-based biodiesel power are quite interesting for Amtrak and the railroad industry.  Tallow has a variety uses, such as an ingredient in soaps and food items, but Amtrak’s test results suggest that it could also be used as a renewable energy source.  The fact that the beef infused fuel actually created less pollution makes the concept even more exciting.  If beef tallow biodiesel fuel meets all federal standards and creates less pollution, there’s no reason why it should not be seriously considered as a fuel mixture for trains.  It would be great if Amtrak could take the pioneering steps in permanently incorporating this fuel into it’s fleet if it is shown that it can be a viable and available fuel alternative.


{ 1 comment }

Nick November 3, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Electric would have been even better.

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