Photo: US Department of Transportation

USA: On December 1 Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced two more grants totalling $766 562 to continue research into the use of cleaner fuels and lubricants in the rail sector, as part of a programme aimed at reducing national dependence on fossil fuels.

'We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint through the use of alternative sources’, he said. 'These innovative projects are just the latest steps in making our transportation systems cleaner all across the country’.

The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded $395 189 to North Carolina State University to continue its research into the use of biofuels, with the aim of reaching a recommendation for a ‘premium’ biofuel blend for diesel locomotive engines. Meanwhile, the University of Northern Iowa has received $371 373 to study the feasibility of using biodegradable soya-based lubricants on rail vehicles.

Adding that ‘FRA has a long history of funding research to make railroads more energy efficient and cleaner’, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C Szabo pointed out that an earlier grant of $274 000 had enabled Amtrak to modify one of its locos used on the Heartland Flyer between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth to run on a B20 blend of 20% biofuel and 80% diesel.