We've been following, for some time, the efforts of the Coalition for Sustainable Rail to demonstrate the use of torreified biomass (a way of recapturing carbon for use in coal that doesn't require geologic time) in a steam locomotive capable of matching diesel Hiawatha or Metroliner speeds in a carbon-neutral way.  In the course of following their progress, I alluded to the project in a story about the Wisconsin Dells-based manufacturer of steam locomotives for zoo and amusement park railroads.

"[P]erhaps visitors to the Dells will have an opportunity to witness 261's passage again, or perhaps a passage by the Coalition for Sustainable Rail's test engine."

Better yet, one of the steamers at the Milwaukee County Zoo, a relatively large Pacific built by Sandley at the Dells, has served as a test-bed.
From June 10-12, CSR teamed up with the Milwaukee County Zoo, the Natural Resources Research Institute, and Solvay Biomass Energy to undertake the first test of torrefied biomass on a steam locomotive. The tests are a key step in ensuring that the fuel can be used in steam locomotives of all sizes in the face of shuttering coal mines.
The reference to "shuttering of coal mines" is not a dig at the environmental activism of the Obama administration or the Clinton campaign.  Rather, steam locomotives are fussy about their diet, and a coal industry whose principal customers are power plants and a few coke works that purchase black diamonds by the trainload is an industry less interested in providing a truckload or carload of coal for a preservation railroad.  (No, I don't know if that figures into Union Pacific's plans to rebuild Big Boy 4014 as an oil burner.)

Here's how the test bed worked out.
CSR worked hand-in-hand with Zoo staff to instrument 4-6-2 steam locomotive number 1924 and undertake the tests [see diagram below]. Torrefied biomass fuel was graciously donated by Solvay Biomass Energy for use during research. The small fuel pellets were burned on a modified stainless steel grate installed by CSR on-site.
Who would have thought that.

Retrieved from Coalition for Sustainable Rail.

And you have to love the way academicians stake out opportunities for future research.  When they break out a full dynamometer car, we'll know they're serious.
More information, including additional videos of the tests and a detailed White Paper, will be made available later this summer. CSR plans to undertake a second set of tests with the Milwaukee County Zoo with larger torrefied biomass pellets created by NRRI at its Coleraine Minerals Research Laboratory later this year. The organization has also been in discussions with standard-gauge operators about undertaking full scale tests in the future.
There are two standard-gauge steam preservation efforts within easy driving distance of Cold Spring Shops. Perhaps one of them will participate.

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