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Copyright © 1910-1997 A C Lynn Zelmer and other copyright holders

Alberta Coal Branch
Coal May Make Comeback As Economical Train Fuel

OTTAWA (CP)--Coal-burning turbine engines, infinitely more turbine engines, more economical than diesel engines, may inject new life into Canada's declining coal mining industry if technical difficulties can be overcome.

A hint of these developments was given the Senate transport committee Thursday by N.J. MacMillan, vice-president and general counsel of the Canadian National Railways.

During discussion of CNR plans to buy about 150 more oil-burning diesel engines this year, Senator Gordon Isnor (L--Nova Scotia) drew Mr, MacMillan's attention to the plight of the coal mining industry, suffering from the loss of markets which once included substantial purchases of coal by the railways.

Senator Isnor asked if there have been any developments in the research project at McGill University in Montreal to develop a coal-burning turbine.

Mr. MacMillan replied that the CNR is watching the project closely. Those associated with it believe it possible to build a coal-burning turbine "infinitely more efficient than the diesel engine."

The only serious problem in the project is the removal of the ash created by the burning powdered coal, he said.

It has been found that the ash cannot be exhausted except through the turbine. This causes pitting on the turbine blades which eventually throws the engine out of operation and creates high maintenance costs.

Senator Thomas Vien (L--Quebec) asked if there is any likelihood of atomic power being used for railway engines.

Mr. MacMillan said atomic power presents two big difficulties. One is that the equipment necessary to dispose of the heat generated, requires space that now would be occupied by three railway cars. In addition, the atomic power plant now requires shielding five feet in thickness as protection against radiation.

However, the really major problem from the railway's standpoint [Article cut-off at this point.]

Edmonton Journal, 18 June 1954.

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