Engineers from the Coalition for Sustainable Rail, are working on what they believe will be the world’s first carbon-neutral high-speed locomotive – and it is to be powered by steam.

The engineers are adapting Locomotive 3463, built in 1937 and donated to the project by the Great Overland Station Museum in Topeka, Kansas, to create “the world’s cleanest, most powerful passenger locomotive”.

3463 Locomotive to be converted to "biocoal"
3463 Locomotive to be converted to “biocoal”

The locomotive will be adapted to burn biocoal – a biomass-derived solid fuel with an energy density and handling properties similar to those of coal but which releases no more carbon when burned than was originally absorbed by the plants from which it was made. In addition, the biocoal contains no heavy metals and produces less ash, smoke and volatile off-gases than mineral coal.

The project will involve an attempt to break the world speed record for a steam locomotive by pushing the overhauled locomotive to at least 209 kilometres an hour.

The engineers hope that. once perfected, the technology will be used for combined heat and power energy in the developing world as well as reducing dependence on fossil fuels.