US rail operator Amtrak has completed a successful trial of a new biodiesel fuel containing beef tallow to power the Heartland Flyer train that runs between Oklahoma and Texas.

In a research paper presented by Amtrak at the University of Illinois, the company said it conducted the trial on a GE P32-8, 3,200 horsepower train and 12-cylinder engine which is compliant with US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Tier 0 standards.

The trial has included the operation of B20 biodiesel fuel, which is a blend of 20% pure biofuel and 80% diesel oil.

Amtrak Environmental, Health and Safety vice president Roy Deitchman said, "The trial design included one year of testing, evaluating the engine and gasket wear, determining the quality of air emissions, and regularly monitoring the quality of the biodiesel fuel.

"The results of the trial indicate the in-service locomotive was very reliable with the B20 blend, engine wear was limited, air emissions were below EPA limits for this generation of passenger locomotive, and the biofuel supply met industry standards."

Amtrak conducted a year-long trial to see whether fuel made from beef tallow could be mixed with diesel oil using a $274,000 US government grant and worked with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

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Tallow is used in soap and animal feed.