The Coalition for Sustainable Rail is planning a biocoal high-speed locomotive that will be carbon-neutral. Yes, carbon-neutral.
Biocoal is a biofuel that is created by processing cellulosic biomass. While biocoal exhibits the same energy density and material handling properties as coal, it is carbon neutral, contains no heavy metals, and produces “less ash, smoke and volatile off-gases”. The team hopes that biocoal will revolutionize the way the United States generates clean electricity.
Due to the abundance of sustainable forest in Minnesota and the energy efficiency of the torrefaction process, biocoal can be produced at reasonable cost. Though not as cheap as current domestic coal production, this price range is significantly lower than the diesel fuel that currently powers all diesel-electric fleet. When comparing the fuels on a one-to-one scale, factoring in the overall thermal efficiency of each technology, the efficient external combustion of biocoal makes it substantially less expensive than diesel fuel.