Preserving Solid Fuel Firing in a Post-Coal World

This white paper addresses how economic forces and environmental concerns are shifting global energy markets away from coal towards natural gas and other technologies, making preservation of the skills associated with solid fuel firing increasingly difficult for heritage operators. The Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR), in association with the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota - Duluth (NRRI), is working to stay ahead of this eventuality by developing a direct coal replacement employing sustainable biomass.

Preliminary results and a program is detailed in the paper, outlining steps being taken by CSR to perform instrumented testing and refinement of this material to-date. The project is specifically designed to reduce risk associated with development of the fuel by first conducting tests in quarter scale locomotives and then systematically moving toward larger, and larger equipment. 

Development of Modern Steam 4: Advanced Internal Boiler Water Treatment

A continual problem since the development of the first steam locomotive has been treatment of the boiler water. Water contains impurities (minerals, metals, etc.) which can lead to problems in boilers. This paper is aimed at providing a background on the technology and an exemplary test case of the application of an advanced boiler water treatment to the steam locomotive. The application of that treatment to historic and first generation steam locomotives is a crucial step in keeping historic equipment operating safely and efficiently, and it is a must for any future development of second and third generation steam...

What Pressure for Old Locomotive Boilers?

This White Paper, was written by mechanical engineer L.D. Porta in 1999 and addresses some of the misconceptions and concerns surrounding old steam locomotive boilers. The paper addresses a bit the history of riveted construction in bridges, including the famous Firth of Forth bridge. Apart from being one of the most iconic railroad structures in the world, it is also constructed of steel held together with millions of rivets, all of which have stood the test of time since their installation in the 1880's. 

The Thermo-Mechanical Behavior of the Steam Locomotive Firebox

This never-before-published report on the fundamental principles of steam locomotive fireboxes is a unique glimpse into the mind of modern steam engineer Livio Dante Porta. The piece is an interesting look into the design process and, at times, struggles encountered in the pursuit of advanced steam locomotion. Porta wrote the paper at the time of preparing and testing former Chesapeake & Ohio Railway 4-8-4 number 614 as part of the ACE 3000 project. 

Development of Modern Steam 3: the Rio Turbio Railway and GPCS

This White Paper, which covers the history of the Rio Turbio Railway and the Gas Producer Combustion System, provides an in-depth look into one of the most unique railroad operations of the Twentieth Century. With a track gauge of only 750 mm (2'-5.5"), the Rio Turbio Railway, or " Ramal Ferro Industrial de Rio Turbio" (RFIRT), operated with a fleet of 20, 2-10-2 type steam locomotives of advanced design. Arriving on the property in the late 1950's to address a series of mechanical issues with the locomotives, Engineer L.D. Porta's work on the railroad led to advances in combustion, maintenance, and boiler designs, laying the foundation for advanced steam work which followed across the globe.

Development of Modern Steam 2: Argentina - Porta's First Locomotive

At age 25, Porta was able to convince financiers to back the concept of modifying an antiquated 4-6-2 into a modern 4-8-0. Over the next three years (from 1947-1950), Porta completely rebuilt and modernized the locomotive, the results of which laid the foundation for developments he championed in the half-century to follow. The story of Argentina shows the incredible drive of a young, very industrious engineer in successfully conceiving, coordinating, financing, designing, building and testing a very modern steam locomotive. Virtually every known thermodynamic improvement available at the time was applied in its construction.

Development of Modern Steam 1: Andre Chapelon and his Steam Locomotives

"André Chapelon and his Steam Locomotives" focuses on the predecessor mechanical engineers of modern steam locomotives, primarily the French locomotive designer André Chapelon. The application of fluid and thermodynamics to the steam locomotive was most successfully undertaken by Chapelon on the Paris Orleans Railway and, once nationalized, the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF). His understanding of the "steam circuit," the utilization of advanced front end exhausts paired with large steam passages and his successful utilization of "compounding," that is using steam more than once, were as successful in theory as they were in practice.

Steam Locomotive Rail Wheel Dynamics Part 2 - Mechanical Balancing of Steam Locomotives

As the second part of a two-part series on locomotive balancing, this white paper provides an in-depth, yet approachable explanation of steam locomotive rail wheel dynamics.  From defining dynamic augment to explaining how a Franklin Radial Buffer helps alleviate the need for overbalance, the Mechanical Balancing of Steam Locomotives white paper provides the fundamentals of steam locomotive balancing.

Steam Locomotive Rail Wheel Dynamics Part 1 - Precedent Speed

The Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) has received a few pointed questions about the feasibility of a modern steam locomotive to operate efficiently and safely at higher speeds since announcing "Project 130" in May 2012. That in mind, it has decided to formulate a two-part white paper on steam locomotive speed and rail dynamics: 1.) Precedent Speed and 2.) Primer on the Mechanical Balancing of Steam Locomotives. This paper focuses on the anecodotal history of traditional steam locomotives at speed, while the next paper will provide an in-depth engineering investigation of locomotive wheel balancing and engineering.

Biofuel from Cattails - A Trip Report from Mauritania

The Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI), a research collaborator of CSR, has been studying the ability of converting invasive biomass species into torrefied biomass, or "biocoal." Working with the non-profit Agency to Facilitate the Growth of Rural Organizations (AFGRO), NRRI has investigated the ability of turningTypha Australis, an invasive relative of the North American cattail that is choking the Senegal River in Mauritania and Senegal, Africa, into a usable, clean cooking, heating and electricity fuel source. This White Paper, "Visit to Mauritania to Explore NRRI-Developed Option for Conversion of Typha australis to Biocoal," provides a detailed summary of the trip taken by CSR's research partners and includes, following the main report, a copy of the presentation given by Dr. Fosnacht before multiple bodies in Mauritania. 

The Case for a Better American Steam Locomotive

At the height of the Arab Oil Embargo, preceding most talk of modern steam locomotion in the U.S. (including prior to the famous Red Devil project in South Africa and ACE 3000 undertaking in the States), Ing. Livio Dante Porta wrote a paper in response to two articles published in Trains Magazine in the late 1960's concerning historic steam locomotive development.  Called "The Case for a Better American Steam Locomotive," it is a solid introduction to the concept of modern steam locomotive mechanical engineering and, through the success of other projects as mentioned in the Foreword, a concrete example of its success and efficacy.