The United Kingdom could be making the switch from steam-powered trains to trains that run off the power of human poo, all in the name of preventing pollution.
Scientists have been working hard on how to turn human and food waste into synthetic coal that could potentially replace fossil fuel powered trains. Their synthetic coal, called “biocoal”, is produced by pressurizing sewage underwater at 482 degrees Fahrenheit before condensing it into solid lumps that resemble coal.
The smokeless alternative has been rigorously tested and was a success on a line in West Yorks. Sounds like the potential switch could be moving full speed ahead by the Heritage Railways Association (HRA) sometime soon.
Not only will this help in making trains more carbon neutral but it will also help with supply problems currently being caused by the war in Ukraine. Every year, over 26,000 tons of coal are imported from Ukraine into England. The coal is used to power vintage trains still running on the fossil fuel for over 150 rail lines.
HRA chief executive Steve Oates said its biocoal test was a “significant milestone in the history of steam locomotives in the U.K.”
Train fireman Noel Hartley said shovelling the biocoal involved a completely different technique from regular coal. “You’ve got to make sure you get it really hot to start with,” Hartley said. That must be one foul job but somebody has to do it.