Italian Start-up developed combined concrete-recycled composite sleeper

GreenRail Bahnschwelle (Foto: GreenRail s.r.l.)

Milano (Italy) – The Italian innovative start-up company GreenRail s.r.l. has developed a new kind of sleeper, combining the advantages of concrete sleepers with the ones of composite sleepers. The sleeper is composed of an inner core in concrete, covered by an elastic outer shell obtained from recycled plastic and ELT, which reduces maintenance costs, vibrations and noise. Some GreenRail Solar™ types can even produce electric energy.

The outer shell of GreenRail™, obtained from recycled plastic materials and rubber, ensures higher resistance to whether conditions, freeze, unfreeze and fire and contributes to reducing vibrations and noise, while ensuring better interactions between the ballast and the sleeper, reducing rail lateral displacement.

According to the company, the sleeper is produced with recycled material (ELT + plastic) and complies with current and future environmental needs. It is, in fact, calculated, that 1,670 GreenRail™ sleepers (equal to 1 km of railway line) contribute to recover 35 tons of ELT and 35 tons of recycled plastic.

The result of the combination between concrete and composite sleepers is a sleeper that has a longer lifespan, estimated in 50 years from the first installation. Also, the sleeper is designed to support the “W” rail elastic type fastening system, pre-assembled in factory, which facilitates the construction through renewal trains and requires less time. This, together with the inner core in concrete, makes the product adaptable for all types of lines.

First of all the use of secondary materials such as recycled plastics and end-of-life tyres allows to use the material recovery from two waste streams whose disposal is somewhat critical. Such direct advantage might be supplemented by further favorable environmental aspects, such as the decreased consumption of ballast and the consequent lower release of particulates in the air. Furthermore, the possibility to produce some electric energy thanks to the embedded piezoelectric or photovoltaic system is another advantage of the system that needs to be addressed.

GreenRail Piezo™ is a sleeper that is able to produce electric energy. This is made possible through the use of a piezoelectric system that is placed under the rail section.

GreenRail Solar™ is a GreenRail™ sleeper that can produce electric energy by using a photovoltaic module placed in the center of the sleeper, thus transforming the railway lines into 150 Kwh solar fields.

GreenRail LinkBox™is a GreenRail Solar™ or a GreenRail Piezo™, that is able to integrate many systems, such as security and safety systems or telecommunication systems.

Thanks to these products, GreenRail is winner of Horizon 2020 dedicated SME Instrument – Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research for Transport.

Source: GreenRail s.r.l.