Diesel fuel is the most common fuel type used in railways, but inventory compilers should be careful not to omit or double count the other fuels that may be used in diesel locomotives for traction purposes. These may be mixed with diesel and may include petroleum fuels (such as residual fuel, fuel oils, or other distillates), bio-diesel (e.g. oil esters from rape seed, soy bean, sunflower, Jatropha, or Karanjia oil, or recovered vegetable and animal fats), and synthetic fuels. Bio-diesel can be used in all diesel engines with slight or no modification. Blending with conventional diesel is possible. Synthetic fuels include synthetic middle distillates (SMD) and Dimethyl Ether (DME) to be produced from various carbonaceous feedstocks, including natural gas, residual fuel oil, heavy crude oils, and coal via the production of synthesis gas. The mix varies and presently it is between 2 to 5 percent bio-diesel and the remaining petroleum diesel. The emission properties of these fuels are considered to be similar to those used for the road transport sector. CO2 emissions from fuels derived from biomass should be reported as information items, and not included in the national total to avoid double counting.
Diesel locomotives may combust natural gas or coal for heating cars. Although these energy sources may be "mobile," the methods for estimating emissions from combustion of fuels for heat are covered under the Stationary Combustion section of this Energy Volume. Inventory compilers should be careful not to omit or double count the emissions from energy used for carriage heating in railways.
Diesel locomotives also consume significant amounts of lubricant oils. The related emissions are dealt with in Chapter 5 of the IPPU volume.
There are potential overlaps with other source sectors. A lot of statistical data will not include fuel used in other activities such as stationary railway sources; off-road machinery, vehicles and track machines in railway fuel use. Their emissions should not be included here but in the relevant non-railway categories as stationary sources, off-road etc. If this is not the case and it is impossible to separate these other uses from the locomotives, then it is good practice to note this in any inventory report or emission reporting tables.
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