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Author Topic: The end of coal  (Read 13586 times)
Witham Bobby
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« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2020, 02:29:52 pm »


This was a problem in the 1950s, let alone now, and was one of the reasons why Swindon Works involved themselves in improved draughting arrangements etc. In short, when all you can get hold of is coal dust stuck together with cement you still need the engines to steam.

I admit that I am a bit of an armchair inexpert  on the finer points but, as the majority of railway coal being burnt these days is to keep relatiively light loads going at a maximum of 25mph. the coal quality is unlikely to have any serious problems attached to it. Until you get to dropping the fire after a day's work, that is...

Main line steam working would of course be a different matter

If the stuff won't burn right, it matters not that the load is light and the speed is 25mph.  You have to consider not only the provision of enough energy to shift the train, but also potential damage to firebox and grate, not to mention noxious smoke.
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Trowres
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« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2020, 11:47:18 pm »

With the demand for heritage railway fuel being low, I wondered if charcoal would be a viable option. I came across this website with a suggestion of partially-pyrolysed wood that seems to retain a bit more of a coal-like quality than charcoal:

https://csrail.org/newsroom/2016/3/29/coal-fired-steam-can-it-last

(the relevant details are some way down the article).

At this (non-Drax) scale, possible easier to make carbon-neutral and sustainable using relatively local wood.

(modified to correct hyperlink)
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TonyK
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« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2020, 12:18:45 am »

There will always be a need for some coal, whether imported or produced domestically, for iron and steel manufacture.
It should be simple to use a little for heritage railways.
There is also a modest but ongoing demand for coal for domestic heating and cooking. The domestic use of traditional housecoal has been/is about to be banned, but anthracite and coal derived patent fuels are still permitted. It should be simple to use a little of this coal for heritage railways.

Also coal burning for electric power production is unlikely to permanently end just yet. It is expected to resume in the winter, and for the next few winters. It should be simple to divert a little of this power station coal for heritage railway use.
Electricity from coal is declining rapidly but is most unlikely to become totally extinct just yet.

Farriers and blacksmiths will also need coal in modest volumes for the foreseeable future, supply to heritage railways could be combined with supplying this market.

My bolthole has an open fire, with the base heat supplied by electric storage heaters because of there being no gas supply to the village, and no desire to have a tank outside. It wouldn't be particularly warm without the fire lit in the evenings. I am not sure that one size fits all in coal. Because we aren't there all the time, I buy it by the 20 kg bag from the depot of the company that supplies everywhere else that sells coal and bagged logs in Devon. The reception there has a display of samples of 8 or so different types of coal they sell for domestic use, arranged in order of price, which also seems to correspond with how much heat they give out. I understand that there is to be a standard government approved solid fuel to replace all this, which I imagine will cost more than all the existing options. Business will be brisk in the last few weeks, as I am sure I will not be the only one to stockpile. I am sure I will be offered an alternative in the pub, I'm just not sure whether to call it black market or underground.

Drax power station in Yorkshire is due to cease burning coal soon, completing its transformation into a new green facility burning "biomass", and attracting generous subsidies. Except that a climate change think tank called Ember has finally read what I have written on the subject previously here and elsewhere, and realised that burning wood pellets that have been dried then dragged across the Atlantic using dirty marine diesel isn't particularly green. The basic premise of the young trees, planted to replace those cut down so that we can enjoy Eastenders with a clear conscience, producing oxygen from carbon dioxide while growing is a good one scientifically. The problem is that it will take centuries to square the circle, if at all, and we don't have that long. According to another group quoted by the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) in this report, Drax is the UK (United Kingdom)'s biggest emitter of CO2, and isn't helping much in the fight against climate change. I'm also waiting for them to get back to me to explain why £92.50 per mWh is an illegal subsidy if it is Hinkley C, but £144 per mWh isn't, if it's burning wood. It may be that the contracts are unstoppable, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Drax and other wood pellet burners falling from grace soon. Quite what that will do for coal generation remains to be seen, although I will be glad to see it gone forever.

Somehow, I can see a supply of coal finding its way into the UK still, in sufficient quantity that steam railways will still be able to get it, for quite a few years to come.
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broadgage
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« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2020, 03:12:33 pm »

Regarding fuel supply for the domestic fireplace discussed above.
You will no longer be allowed to purchase traditional housecoal for your fireplace.
All common types of coal derived patent fuels will still be allowed. The better quality patent fuels are very suitable for domestic open fires.
No question of just one standard type being available.
Your supplier will be able to recommend the most suitable fuel for an open fire.
Anthracite is also permitted, but is not entirely suitable for an open fire, more applicable to closed appliances with an induced draught.

Note that the restrictions on housecoal are NOT primarily for climate change reasons, but are to reduce smoke and particulate emissions. Patent fuels emit almost the same amount of carbon dioxide as housecoal, but do greatly reduce smoke and particulates.

If you use your open fire regularly, it might be worth having a small modern stove installed instead. These make better use of fuel, often consuming less than half the fuel of an open fire for the same heat.
This not only saves money but also reduces the labour in fuel handling and ash disposal.
Be sure to get a multi fuel stove that can burn logs or anthracite.
Logs are greener if obtained locally.
Anthracite is longer burning and less bulky to store, and keeps better.
I use logs normally but keep half a ton or so of anthracite for emergencies.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
Celestial
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« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2020, 03:32:15 pm »

... for emergencies.

Who would have guessed.
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broadgage
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« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2020, 08:22:36 pm »

... for emergencies.

Who would have guessed.

There might be a pandemic or some other out of course event that disrupts fuel supplies.
For similar reasons I keep a few thousand candles and a couple of hundred batteries.
I don't trust any fuel supply if I cant see it, on the premises.
The present pandemic has not had any discernable effect on fuel supplies, but what about NEXT winter, or the NEXT pandemic.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
Celestial
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« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2020, 10:24:46 pm »


There might be a pandemic or some other out of course event that disrupts fuel supplies.
For similar reasons I keep a few thousand candles

I am speechless...
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MVR S&T
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« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2020, 10:29:19 pm »

I only keep 4 Candles... Good for digging the veg patch over.
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TonyK
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« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2020, 11:25:37 am »

I've had a look at my stock of emergency supplies, and realised that I have eaten half of them. That's two tins of beans to replace when I can get out again.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2020, 02:19:46 pm »

With all that petrol, paraffin, lavatory paper and candle wax in the Broadguage household, I hope there is also a fire extinguisher and smoke detector or two to keep them all safe!
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SandTEngineer
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« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2020, 02:29:37 pm »

With all that petrol, paraffin, lavatory paper and candle wax in the Broadguage household, I hope there is also a fire extinguisher and smoke detector or two to keep them all safe!

...what about the logs and half a ton or so of anthracite.... Roll Eyes Tongue
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broadgage
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« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2020, 02:37:36 pm »

Yes, three large AFFF fire extinguishers. One upstairs, one downstairs, and one in the workshop.
Also a dry powder extinguisher in the kitchen.
The storage shed has no extinguisher, but is rendered as safe as possible from fire. It is of non combustible construction, and has no electrical installation whatsoever.

The shed contains petrol, LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas), paraffin, and candles. Access only in daylight, or in an emergency with an intrinsically safe torch.
Toilet paper is low risk and is stored in the bathroom.
One container of paraffin is stored indoors in the downstairs lavatory in case of need.
One box of 50 candles in the living room in case of need.

Smoke detectors as needed.

I have used my fire extinguishers once and a garden hose for fire fighting, but that when a neighbours property caught fire.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
SandTEngineer
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« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2020, 02:42:40 pm »

I think we need to rename this topic 'The end of the world as we know it'...... Grin Tongue
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broadgage
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« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2020, 02:45:56 pm »

With all that petrol, paraffin, lavatory paper and candle wax in the Broadguage household, I hope there is also a fire extinguisher and smoke detector or two to keep them all safe!

...what about the logs and half a ton or so of anthracite.... Roll Eyes Tongue

Logs are outdoors and are low risk, in case of accident a garden hose is available.
Anthracite is very low risk, hard to ignite and virtually self extinguishing expect in a purpose built appliance with an induced draught. Usually stacked outdoors near front door, can be stacked in the hall in an emergency (against theft, not fire risk) The pilfering classes don't normally think about logs or coal, too heavy and relatively low value, in a severe fuel shortage though theft could be a risk.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
Red Squirrel
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« Reply #29 on: June 18, 2020, 02:49:04 pm »

...with the base heat supplied by electric storage heaters because of there being no gas supply to the village, and no desire to have a tank outside. 

At some point in the not-too-distant future we will need to replace our domestic gas boiler. I'm certainly prepared to consider an air-sourced heat pump; at the moment these are more expensive to install and run than gas boilers (though, interestingly, cheaper than oil-fired systems to run), but have the advantage that the electricity that powers them could at least in theory all be produced without burning stuff.
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