Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Railroad not as environmentally friendly as train

13.12.2006
Taking the train is often the most environmentally friendly alternative, in terms of where the power comes from. But this does not apply to the rails the train runs on.

Constructing and maintaining railroad tracks uses huge amounts of energy from fossil fuels. Great improvements can be made if the management of materials is seen from a life-cycle perspective, according to new research from Linköping University in Sweden.

To be able to make a correct comparison of the environmental impact of various forms of traffic, it is necessary to look at the entire life cycle, where infrastructure is an important component. From that perspective, the environmental benefits of travel by rail compared to road traffic are not as great as we often imagine, according to Niclas Svensson, Environmental Technology and Management at Linköping University.

“The environmental work done by Banverket, the authority that manages Sweden’s rail network, has been limited to local and regional problems like weed control along the banks and creosote in ties. Global issues like energy use and carbon dioxide emissions from the production of railroad materials have not been in focus to the same extent,” says doctoral candidate Niclas Svensson.

If you factor in infrastructure and operations, buses can be the most economical alternative for travelers today in terms of energy use. A trip on a train powered by electricity costs one third more in energy terms, but results in lower net emissions of carbon dioxide. If the train is powered by diesel, it is a considerably worse than a bus in both respects.

However, the results of a comparison of various modes of transport are highly dependent on how much of their full capacity is actually used. In trunk lines, in computer traffic around major cities, and for freight, rail transport is still more energy efficient.

Above all, what makes railroad construction such a heavy consumer of energy is the steel used in rails. Since such huge quantities are needed, and so much energy is required for its production, steel is the most important product for Banverket’s environmental efforts.

“Energy use can differ by as much as 50 percent at different steelworks. Banverket should require more environmentally friendly production in its procurement of steel,” says Niclas Svensson.

The life-cycle analysis applied in the dissertation is based on data from the construction of new dual tracks for commuter traffic between Stockholm and two suburbs.

For 6.9 kilometers of track, nearly 900 tons of material was used, of which 94 percent was gravel, 4 percent concrete, and 2 percent steel. However, in terms of energy use, the steel accounted for 77 percent, the gravel 9 percent, and the concrete 4 percent.

Åke Hjelm | alfa
Further information:
http://www.liu.se

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

nachricht Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>