Recently, Southern Railway announced plans for a large scale biodiesel plant near the site of its present pilot facility at the famous Perambur Locomotive Works in Chennai (Madras), where India’s biodiesel journey began.
The new plant will be the first of many to be sited at rail hubs throughout the country. It will be developed with the help of the biodiesel pilot team and under a memorandum of understanding with Indian Railways’ Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF). It is one of a number of green initiatives recently taken by the Southern Railway, including the new 10.5 MW coastal wind farm that powers Perambur’s Integral Coach Factory.
The new large scale plant will have an output of 2000 litres of biodiesel per day, compared to the 500 litres per day currently produced by Perambur’s pilot plant, and is intended to supply only Southern Railway trains and motor vehicles. This is much better than the earlier arrangement, under which the pilot plant had to supply biodiesel to trains throughout the country, which resulted in blends as low as B5 on some routes.
The new plant will use a mix of feedstocks including Jatropha oil from a new, high-yielding hybrid developed by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. The pilot team has been experimenting with a wide array of potential feedstocks including soy oil, waste vegetable oil and even fish oil.