Tourist train in Provence partially powered by biofuel from olive pits

Biofuel made from olive pits powers a vintage steam train in the south of France, ferrying tourists through the natural parks and charming hills and villages of Provence, the heart of wine and wine production. olive oil in the country.

For decades, the Train Des Pignes à Vapeur had left behind a trail of dark gray smoke from its coal-fired engines.

As the end of the 2022 tourist season nears, the cultural association that runs the train has announced that its 44.5-tonne locomotive is now powered by olive-derived biofuel.

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According to the study group of the Groupement des chemins de fer de Provence (GECP), the current engine still requires coal to operate properly. However, it works mainly on olive pits in the shape of large cylinders newspapers. »

One ton of coal can be replaced by 700 kilograms of fuel derived from olives and 500 kilograms of coal. Although the solution not only makes running the train cheaper, it is also more environmentally friendly.

GECP said it decided to make the change both to become more environmentally friendly and because coal was becoming harder to find.

Since ancient times, our mills in Provence have used olive pomace for indoor heating,” Guy Mausy, an engineer at GECP, told La Provence. Yet this fuel came in powder form, when we need larger pellets.

GECP said it got the idea from a local subsidiary in Tunisia, which used the olive pit logs” to run the furnaces.

A 2021 study in Spain demonstrated the considerable fuel potential derived from olive pits.

Researchers have found that biofuel made from olive pits contains up to 4,500 calories per gram and is 70-100% cheaper than gasoline or diesel.

Moreover, its emissions are also relatively low, with fewer impurities than other types of biofuels, because the olive pits contain less moisture at the end of the grinding process.

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