The US Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FR-RRD-10-010) for two separate grants totalling $700,000 for research into biofuels and bio-based lubricants for locomotive application.
Eligible projects will include dynamic testing of locomotives, rolling stock and other rail equipment, with various biofuel blends as fuel; or bio-based lubricants being utilized in the appropriate equipment components to verify the effectiveness of the fuel or lubricant, in comparison to their equivalent petroleum-based products.
Both studies were authorized by the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, 2008, (Division B of Pub. L. 110–432).
Biofuels. For the biofuel study, FRA wishes to consider:
- the energy intensity of various biofuel blends compared to diesel fuel;
- environmental and energy effects of using various biofuel blends compared to diesel fuel, including emission effects;
- the cost of purchasing biofuel blends;
- whether sufficient biofuel is readily available;
- any public benefits derived from the use of such fuels; and
- the effect of biofuel use on locomotive and other vehicle performance and warranty specifications.
Locomotive engine performance and emissions shall be determined through locomotive testing, using various biofuel blends and diesel fuel. This research shall be done so that recommendations can be made for premium locomotive biofuel blends.
Bio-based lubricants. The second study will focus on testing the feasibility of using bio-based lubricants in locomotive, rolling stock and other equipment. This study is to consist of the following:
- an analysis of the potential use of soy-based grease and soy-based hydraulic fluids to perform according to railroad industry standards;
- an analysis of the potential use of other readily biodegradable lubricants to perform according to railroad industry standards;
- a comparison of the health and safety of petroleum-based lubricants with bio-based lubricants, which shall include an analysis of fire safety;
- a comparison of the environmental impact of petroleum-based lubricants with bio-based lubricants, which shall include the rate and effects of biodegradability;
- a comparison of the performance of the bio-based lubricant in comparison to petroleum-based lubricants; and
- a study of the effects of the bio-based lubricants on railroad equipment components in comparison to petroleum-based lubricants.
FRA will accept applications for these grant opportunities until 7 June 2010.