Biodiesel Could Fuel Minnesota Commuter Trains

Building on the growing interest in finding new markets for biodiesel use in the state, Minnesota’s Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA) voted to study the feasibility of using biodiesel fuel for operations of the Northstar Commuter Rail service.

“We have always believed that Northstar is a project with statewide importance,” said Duane Grandy, who is the Chairman of NCDA. “By looking into the options for biodiesel use with Northstar, we may be able to broaden the project’s positive impact for Minnesota.” The Northstar Commuter Rail proposal is for service on a 40-mile segment of existing track along Highways 10 and 47 from Big Lake to Minneapolis. The Governor and NCDA are seeking $37.5 million in low-interest bonding from the Minnesota Legislature. Biodiesel options were raised at the January NCDA board meeting when Redwood County Commissioner Gene Short, and representatives from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Diesel Research, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and Twin Cities Western Railroad, presented information on the fuel’s use. The Minnesota Prairie Line in Redwood County, a short-line railroad, has announced it is using a two-percent blend of biodiesel in its engines. “The main feasibility issue is whether biodiesel fuel can meet the operating standards and also maintain the financial viability of the Northstar project within FTA requirements,” said Tim Yantos, executive director of the NCDA. “Northstar must meet the cost-effectiveness standard required by the Federal Transit Administration, so we can only pursue biodiesel use to the extent the project continues to meet the FTA’s criteria.” Project staff will examine the feasibility of biodiesel use based on the following factors: Impact on the capital and operating costs; Fuel efficiency; Availability of locomotive manufacturing; Impact on environmental emissions and Federal Transit Administration requirements. The biodiesel mix will also have to meet operating standards and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requirements. A preliminary report on biodiesel feasibility should be submitted to the NCDA board by late spring. “Minnesota has been a leader in the use of biodiesel because of its strong economic and environmental benefits,” Grandy said. “We look forward to determining whether biodiesel can be a successful part of the Northstar Commuter Rail project.”
Previous articleUniversity Makes Second Largest Green Power Commitment
Next articleUniversity of Oregon Goes Solar

No posts to display