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How might we plan for the sustainability of steam powered heritage rail, while being friendly to the climate?


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It won't be green issues or lack of skills that kill off preserved steam, it'll be the price of the fuel.

 

Humans have always carried on doing things the old-fashioned way because it's often enjoyable - hence there's plenty of horses and old cars/vans/trucks around when their job of work can be done much more efficiently by today's technology.

 

The bigger problem they're likely to face is the global move away from fossil fuels. The coal mines that are left will become fewer and fewer as demand drops, but I'd guess the price of a ton will rise as a combination of lack of supply and taxes applied to non-environmentally friendly fuel sources. I'd imagine a few well off locomotive owners might convert to burning hydrogen but don't believe we'll see the numbers we have today.

 

Steam engines and first generation diesels have the advantage they use old technology and can usually be fixed with a hammer and a small workshop. As long as the skills are there they can be kept moving. Preserving and keeping moving more modern locomotives and units like the class 66, 67, 68 and 800 will be harder - a higher level skill base and technology will be needed. Compare the number of WW2 aircraft flying to those from the 1960s onwards for example. The higher-tech planes just can't be kept airworthy at a reasonable cost leaving them grounded.

 

Steven B.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

but felt the need to keep knocking home the point that you can't burn carbon-based stuff without creating CO2

 

But that is a red herring.  The problem is not CO2 emissions but nett CO2 emissions and releasing  carbon by burning material that was itself recently synthesised from atmospheric CO2 is not at all the same as releasing carbon out of long term stores like peat bogs or coal measures.  Of course the side effects of producing biofuels may be very undesirable, but that isn't an inherent feature of burning the fuel itself.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Steven B said:

Compare the number of WW2 aircraft flying to those from the 1960s onwards for example. The higher-tech planes just can't be kept airworthy at a reasonable cost leaving them grounded.

 

 

That's precisely why the Lancaster is still flying (with another on the way), but the Vulcan has been grounded.

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23 minutes ago, Flying Pig said:

The problem is not CO2 emissions but nett CO2 emissions


I get that too.

 

But, we are such a long way from being ‘net zero’ overall, and so far along the road of having created too much CO2, too quickly for our own good, that right now adding any more C and O together, even if it they have only been separate for a short time, isn’t the best option (better than combing C and O that have been separate for ages, but not the best).

 

Where I readily admit to getting mildly confused is with fast-growing plants, those with a naturally rapid ‘lock and release’ cycle ……. I think that the normal release of carbon is into the soil, with slow conversion into CO2 by soil bacteria, whereas burning those same plants causes rapid release and conversion to CO2. Correct?

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I don’t think the supply of coal will be a problem. China produces 38% of the worlds green house gases ( the U.K. produces 1%) and is continuing to burn coal to the extent that it is building another 40 coal fired power stations and are reopening closed coal mines. They also import coal, places like Columbia and Russia will continue to mine coal for many years.

I agree however that the cost will rise over the years.

How ironic when we are sitting on massive quantities of coal but we are not allowed to dig it out of the ground despite the fact that the U.K. hardly registers on the scale of CO2 producers.

 

David

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19 hours ago, brianthesnail96 said:

Hydrogen has a lot of potential both for I/C (although it's not exactly flawless- it doesn't ignite under compression so forces you down less efficient combustion strategies)

In fairness, neither does LNG - you need either a tiny injector (which, interestingly, is fed via a Common Rail HP MGO line and solenoids, a concept last really seen on marine engines when Doxfords still sailed the seas, although the control valves were mechanical) to start the ignition process like a conventional diesel, or a spark plug.

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5 hours ago, MarkC said:

In fairness, neither does LNG - you need either a tiny injector (which, interestingly, is fed via a Common Rail HP MGO line and solenoids, a concept last really seen on marine engines when Doxfords still sailed the seas, although the control valves were mechanical) to start the ignition process like a conventional diesel, or a spark plug.

 

Indeed- a lot of natural gas injection stuff should read right across to hydrogen. 

 

I was on the development team for the dual fuel injectors used in the Volvo LNG trucks that were launched a couple of years back (concentric nozzles for LNG and diesel, each with it's own actuator) and seem to be pretty successful- I believe the main company behind that project has run them on hydrogen with very good results, just as a proof of concept so far but we'll see what happens.

 

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