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Man made coal

Man made coal

Man made coal

(OP)
Saw an article yesterday, which I can't find, about operating steam trains on man made coal. I did find this article, however:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17912_3-10200246-72.html

Has anyone seen interest in this technology?

RE: Man made coal

I think the most recent steam locomotives were mostly designed to burn anthracite, hard coal. This biochar stuff has to be softer than soft coal, which I think requires a larger than normal firebox and some other special features.

But, fuel supply aside, steam locomotives are maintenance- intensive beasts, and the people with the necessary skills are mostly gone, as is also true of the shops, the tools, and the wayside water replenishment infrastructure.

Massive government intervention might offset the superior economics of Diesels, but even today's massive governments don't have that kind of money, and the skill shortage is not so easily or quickly overcome.


Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Man made coal

Perhaps you're thinking of this:
Coalition for Sustainable Rail

I think it's interesting, and as a railfan, assuming it's proves worthwhile, it may prolong the life of steam engines and for me at least, that in and of itself is a good thing. That being said, however, the inherent design of the steam engine will not compare favorably (pulling power, constant tractive power, etc) with a diesel-electric so I don't see steam doing any more than excursion work. But again, I hope to see steam on the rails for a long time.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: Man made coal

The straight electric locomotive can run on any fuel that can be used to produce electricity. They are also the least complex and most reliable. Why carry the complex stuff around with you, beating it to death, when you can leave it at a central location?

RE: Man made coal

(OP)
Cajon, that maybe the article, but I don't see the picture of the one I was looking at.

David, While this is true to a point, there are details that are keeping electric trains from taking over. One would be a common voltage source/ level. Another is the cost of building the cantanery.
The Denver light rail for example runs on 800V DC, and requires several converter stations to keep the voltage level as the trains go by. I'm not sure how they handle regeneration.
There are also issues of cost of keeping constant tention on the cantanery, which keeps cantanery sections short.

I guess we could use a phase to phase transformer to convert two phase to single phase for the railroad. But what do you do on the transitions between the power grids?

I also like steam, and even older stoker power plants (which can burn up to 10% wood chips), but the emittion levels are a concern. The burning of man made coal (treatment on the input), should reduce the treatment needed on the output.

The concern would be the cost with other fuels.

RE: Man made coal

Yeah, we could go back to the black gang shoveling coal into the boilers on the cruise ships. That would make the "below decks" tour an intersting excursion too.

I can remember those magnificent beasts from my childhood - nothing like it - unles you traveled on one because that was the days before air conditioned coaches too and the soot came in the windows and got on everything.

I can also remember Mamma talking about being so poor that they walked the railroad tracks to pick up lumps of spilled coal to cook and heat with. Maybe there's hope for the poor (losers from the war on poverty) in this concept too.

rmw

RE: Man made coal

Problems with electricity generation? I don't think that's the reason electrics are keep back. Supporting the wires and keeping them taught are solved (even in the EU). There's thousands of miles of electric wires over the tracks everywhere in Europe. I think the electricity is very cheap in comparison to diesel, especially due to the scale factor of making that electricity at a few large central nuclear plants rather than thousands of little steam, or diesel engines rolling all around the country side, not to mention those same distributed combustion emissions sources.
With the extra weight of all those engines, diesel traction might have some advantage for cargo transport, but that doesn't seem to make diesel any more popular in Europe, if at all.

All these and more are electric.
http://www.renfe.com/EN/empresa/comunicacion/productos_trenes/index.html
http://www.eurail.com/trains-europe/high-speed-trains/ice
http://www.italiarail.com/italian-high-speed-trains
http://www.raileurope.com/train-faq/european-trains/tgv/how-to-book.html

What would you be doing, if you knew that you could not fail? Ans. Bonds and derivative brokering.

RE: Man made coal

(OP)
Most european railroads are electric, and I believe there maybe two reasons for that. One that they have fewer miles of track, fewer spers, and sideings, so the cost is much lower.
The other may be that because of the lower density of automoble trafic, they have a larger ridership of passangers. Where as in the US only a few passangers lines are self paying.
Most of the rail lines in the us carry freight, so much so that over 50% of the freight is carried by rail. In europe the freight number is around 10%.

In europe much more cargo travels by the slower river barge (I assume slower is lower cost, or why use it). In the US the rail trafic moves slower, mainly because of the trafic density (There are some equipment, and people shortages also).
In essesence our railroad operates like europes river barge.

However I have been seeing trains here pulled by two or more 4000 HP engines, so at about 1kw/HP, that would translate to 8MW moving load. If we assume a cantaneory voltage of 800 V, the cantaneory would need to be able to deliver a 10,000 amp or more to a train. Again we have a standard or cost issue.

RE: Man made coal

(OP)
Most european railroads are electric, and I believe there maybe two reasons for that. One that they have fewer miles of track, fewer spers, and sideings, so the cost is much lower.
The other may be that because of the lower density of automoble trafic, they have a larger ridership of passangers. Where as in the US only a few passangers lines are self paying.
Most of the rail lines in the us carry freight, so much so that over 50% of the freight is carried by rail. In europe the freight number is around 10%.

In europe much more cargo travels by the slower river barge (I assume slower is lower cost, or why use it). In the US the rail trafic moves slower, mainly because of the trafic density (There are some equipment, and people shortages also).
In essesence our railroad operates like europes river barge.

However I have been seeing trains here pulled by two or more 4000 HP engines, so at about 1kw/HP, that would translate to 8MW moving load. If we assume a cantaneory voltage of 800 V, the cantaneory would need to be able to deliver a 10,000 amp or more to a train. Again we have a standard or cost issue.

RE: Man made coal

Think 25kV AC traction electrification. Germany runs 16kV AC, uses single contact wire, while Holland runs 3kV DC and requires a much heavier structure with a double contact wire. The big hurdle is just getting there. Electrified districts would need to be quite long to be economically sensible. There is also a minor issue of double stacks using essentially all of the existing vertical clearance in many locations, so additional vertical clearance would be required to allow electrification.

RE: Man made coal

(OP)
A few years ago there was an issue with double stacks, and a 22 ft tall bridge, the bridge won. So how high would the cantaneory need to be?
In fact many tunnels in the eastern US are being dalighted for the same reason.

The orignal article I saw is in Trains magizene. The man made coal looks like big Kingford cubes. These apperently are made from wood, and could be made from wood scraps. However I do question how difficult it would be to get enough wood for a number of coal fired trains.
In the same magizene there is also an article on companies using vegitable or anamial fat derived diesel substitutes.

RE: Man made coal

What is the end game here? There are coal mines sitting idle around the world - no shortage of coal. Why, then must we make 'man made coal' to power trains (unless the OP lives in a country with lots of forests and no coal resources.

I loved the old steam locomotive engines of my childhood. I remember the change to diesels. I also have a strong affinity for the corlyss engines and the old 'two lunger' pumps of my early career days, but I realize that none of those are coming back regardless of the fuel available - except as novelties maybe.

rmw

RE: Man made coal

(OP)
The EPA is a game changer in the US. I don't recall seeing a scrubber on a steam engine.

However, with the green movement we must adapt to stay above the law's iron fist.

No I am not a greenie, but thought it interesting. This is sort of like thumbing you nose at anti-coal movement.

RE: Man made coal

Fracking and natural gas is the real game changer, at least in the Appalachian/Marcellus region.

RE: Man made coal

(OP)
I know drilling, and mineing are different process, but the goal is the same, to get a resource out of the ground. Extracting natural gas from coal seams has been going on for some time, except the goal now is to use it. In most coal mineing the natural gas developed was vented because the coal was more valuable, not the gas has some value also.

Lets see, coal is solid carbon, but if we use a process to add hydrogen, can we convert it to natural gas?

RE: Man made coal

YOu need to do some mining on Google and frac what you find.

rmw

RE: Man made coal

If Santa lives at the North Pole, where did he get all that coal to put in my Christmas stocking? Maybe it was made by elves, almost man-made, like the Keebler cookies.

RE: Man made coal

(OP)
Is your coal stamped "Kingsford"?

Besides if I wash my stockings and someone put coal in them, I would be quite mad.

I don't know of many people who still burn coal in there homes for heat. Wood seems to work better, but dosen't last as long.

RE: Man made coal

urgross: in some cultures, Saint Nick had an evil twin who delivered the coal to naughty children, beat them etc. He went by various names, variants of "black Peter", the Ugly, Krampus etc. He's an old character- pre-Christian- just like the Christmas tree he was subsumed by Christian societies when Christianity took over from the pre-existing pagan religions.

RE: Man made coal

I thought the evil twin was the guy I remembered from my youth going to the local VFW at Christmas time: wearing a cheap red suit, badly shaved, drunk by afternoon, and asking little boys to sit on his lap.

RE: Man made coal

Yeah, whereas the good twin was asking little girls to sit on his lap:)

RE: Man made coal

Depends on whether you attended Penn State.

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