An Amtrak Heartland Flyer locomotive that is powered by a beef-based biodiesel fuel recently made TIME magazine’s list of “The 50 Best Inventions of 2010.”

 


An Amtrak Heartland Flyer locomotive that is powered by a beef-based biodiesel fuel recently made TIME magazine’s list of “The 50 Best Inventions of 2010.”

 

The Heartland Flyer, which operates daily between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, with regularly scheduled stops in Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley, Ardmore and Gainesville, Texas, is the only one of TIME’s 10 transportation innovations to be publicly available.

 

Amtrak received a $274,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to carry out a research project with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to determine if the locomotive can operate efficiently and reduce air pollution. The General Electric P32-8 locomotive uses a biodiesel blend known as B20, which contains 20 percent biofuel and 80 percent diesel.

 

The biofuel is made from tallow from Texas cattle, fat that is often used in soap or animal feed.

 

Roy Deitchman, Amtrak’s vice president for environmental, health and safety issues, said the railroad uses about 100,000 gallons of fuel a year to power the Heartland Flyer.

 

“This recognition from TIME magazine is an honor to our state partners and all of us at Amtrak who are working on this project, the nation’s first test of biodiesel in an interstate passenger train,” Deitchman said. “Amtrak travel is already more energy efficient than most other forms of intercity transportation. If the test shows this use of a renewable fuel in our locomotive is successful, it’s a home run for our passengers, for our partners and for the planet.”

 

Ridership in the 12 months ending Sept. 30 was 81,749, up 11 percent from the previous year. And growth is continuing with October 2010 ridership up by more than 17 percent compared to October 2009.

 

“Quality of life issues are increasingly important. The Heartland Flyer has always provided high-quality service and being the first to test this program is another testimony in doing that by trying to improve the environment,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley said. “We are truly proud that Oklahoma is a part of this innovative way to improve our quality of life.”

 

Steve Biehn, 221-6546