|The locomotive of the future|
What is biocoal? Let MSNBC enlighten us:
The biocoal is based on a so-called torrefaction process pioneered at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. To make it, woody material — in this case trees — are heated in the absence of oxygen. The resulting flaky matter is then rammed together under high pressure to create coal-like bricks.
In other words, it's charcoal.
I was gobstruck by this. First off, as an archaeologist, I've seen the effects of a charcoal economy and it isn't pretty. Trying to power even a pre-industrial society on the stuff will strip the woodlands bare in a few decades, but on a modern scale? It isn't possible.
And that isn't the stupid part. This is: The locomotive these nimrods are going to use to test their fuel on is an oil burner, so they have to rip up a vintage piece of technology and convert it to burn solid fuel.
Excuse me, but if you're so keen on testing charcoal as a fuel, then why not ship a few tons to Yorkshire where there are any number of coal-burning steam trains still running on heritage lines that you could use–or you could if the drivers didn't give you an earful of why it's a daft idea.