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Saving energy: applications of foam in rail transport environments

In trains, the air conditioning and heating systems draw off a not insignificant amount of energy. The use of thermal insulation materials such as foams offer performance while remaining lightweight.

Closed cell foams improve thermal insulation

For passenger comfort, trains are vehicles fitted with heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems. These systems consume high quantities of energy and they therefore need to be insulated thermally for optimal efficiency.

Foams with a closed cell structure are ideal products, as they provide barrier properties preventing the infiltration of air, water and dust while they also have useful thermal insulation properties and are relatively thin.

Two categories of foam

There are two different types of foam: open cell foam and closed cell foam.

The first type of foam is manufactured by mixing chemical products with a puffing agent. The foam produced in this way is porous, and therefore likely to absorb humidity.

The second type of foam is produced by using chemical and physical processes (thermoforming stages, under pressure), from rubber type elastomers. “Closed cell” foam produced in this way therefore contains trapped gas bubbles, which gives it its sealant properties.

 

Examples of application

  • Flexible melamine resin foams for thermal insulation and sound absorption. Usable in narrow spaces or heavily curved ceiling and wall surfaces;
  • Non-woven polyester sheath insulation, to limit the loss of heat along heating and air conditioning circuits;

Reducing weight in trains by using foams saves energy

Light weight is a very important factor in all transport-related industries (automotive, rail, aeronautics, etc.), as any weight saving translates into an electrical or fuel energy saving.

Lightweight materials to reduce train weight

With the aim of reducing weight, aluminum tubular structures now replace steel undercarriage structures, as aluminum is three times lighter than steel. For fitting out the interior of railway cars, the use of lightweight materials such as foams also saves energy, while providing thermal and soundproofing properties.

Example: rigid insulation panels for structural applications

It is beneficial to use rigid panels made of PET structural foams as the PET foam provides lightness to the assemblies as well as good thermal insulation, while also offering rigidity and being reasonable in terms of cost.

 

Do not hesitate to contact an ADDEV Materials expert for help matching with your applications