Biofuel on rails

Jason Ford

News Editor

Planes, trains and automobiles are the focus of this week’s Briefing, although not necessarily in that order.

In Scotland today the Prince of Wales is about to embark on a week-long eco-tour of Scotland, England and Wales.

Traveling extensively on the royal train, which is powered by bio-fuel, HRH is aiming to promote and encourage a more sustainable way of living. The tour starts in Glasgow and continues through to Edinburgh, Carmarthen, Bristol, Newcastle, Todmorden, Manchester, Birmingham and concludes in London.

The Engineer has some good news for Prince Charles in the form of a publlication from the Rail Safety and Standards Board which last week disclosed the latest results of research into using bio-diesel fuel on Britain’s railways.

Research on behalf of the Diesel Metering Group (DMG) investigated the impact of using bio-fuel in the diesel engines of locomotives and diesel multiple units.

The report states: ‘from desktop studies, test bed trials and in service trials the DMG has concluded that B20 (a 20 per cent blend of biofuel mixed with 80 per cent ultra-low sulphur diesel) is sensibly the highest blend that could be universally accepted without significant expenditure to retune some engines.

‘The DMG has also concluded that there are two important barriers to bio-diesel use. The first barrier is sustainability of the source fuel. This is a political/environmental decision and requires verification of the source of the fuel. Secondly the research has shown that, for biodiesel blends up to B20 the concern is an economic one and not an engineering one.’

Click here to view the research brief.

Over in the USA and news that NASA is to hold its Green Aviation Summit on Wednesday.

According to NASA, the summit will explore the depth and breadth of the organisation’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s work in environmentally responsible aviation.

During this two-day event, delegates will address the challenges for green aviation and view some of the solutions being developed by NASA to reduce aircraft noise, emissions, and fuel consumption.

Back in Britain with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, who today publish the latest monthly car registration figures.  

Last month’s figures revealed a 13.2 per cent fall in new car registrations in July, following 12 successive monthly rises.

Last week the organisation urged chancellor George Osborne to consider the contribution made by industry in light of the Comprehensive Spending Review, which is set to be published on 20 October.

In a letter to the chancellor, SMMT emphasized easing access to finance and credit for businesses and consumers, encouraging investment in UK skills and low carbon research and development, and promoting international trade.

The Royal United Services Institute hosts a roundtable tomorrow that will examine the prospects for providing the capabilities necessary to realise the foreign and defence policies likely to emerge from the Strategic Defence and Security Review, given the resources likely to be available. It will also examine the contributions made by industry to the UK’s economic prosperity.

Other notable events include the publication today of the EEF Manufacturing Outlook Report, which covers metals, metal products, mechanical engineering, electronics, electrical engineering, motor vehicles and other transport equipment.

Those of you working in the private sector might like to keep an eye on Westminster tomorrow when MPs vote on a bill to cap civil service redundancy payments.

Unions claim the plans will dramatically reduce redundancy payments for civil servants.

Still with Tuesday and news that the British Society for Strain Measurement is holding its Experimental Mechanics Exhibition and Conference.