Railway technology: Finding the right plastics for fire protection
Fire protection is essential in railway technology. However, blanket demands for materials that meet the highest hazard level in EN 45545 are not very productive. This limits the choice of materials unnecessarily and may not make economic sense. For this reason, the material must be selected individually for each requirement. But which plastics are suitable for which applications?
In times of increasing mobility, the demands placed on materials used in transport are also increasing. Higher speeds, energy efficiency, noise reduction and above all safety are just some of the central pursuits of traffic engineering. And fire protection has a major role to play.
Fire protection EN 45545
A fire, wherever it happens, is always a terrifying scenario that can quickly lead to catastrophe. Public transportation such as rail vehicles add another critical aspect: situations such as tunnels or bridge crossings complicate the safe evacuation of passengers. In such cases, the spread of fire must be contained or delayed as long as possible until the occupants can safely exit the train. The more critical the evacuation situation, the greater the demands placed on the fire safety characteristics of the materials employed.
This is a central point of European fire protection standard EN 45545, which for more than a year has been the sole legal framework in Europe governing the requirements for fire protection in rain vehicles taking into account the various hazard classes (Hazard Level, HL1....HL3).
Safety made easy
In an increasingly competitive environment, however, resource conservation and energy efficiency are demanded in addition to safety-related aspects. As in all mobility sectors, weight plays a crucial role. Plastics offer a huge weight advantage compared to traditional materials and have been playing an increasingly important role in rail technology for several years. In the area of static load-bearing components such as external panelling for public transportation, glass fibre-reinforced plastics with a density of only 1.85g/cm³ save about a third of the weight compared to aluminium at 2.7g/cm³.
In addition to advantages in weight, plastic components also offer reduced maintenance, freedom from corrosion, and longevity. Their areas of application are diverse, as are the materials themselves with their diverse characteristics. As a result, it can be difficult for designers tofind the right materials for specific components, particularly against the backdrop of the relatively new and strict European fire safety standard.General requirements for the highest risk classes are not really appropriate as they unnecessarily limit the choice of materials, do not always make sense economically, and additional material characteristics can be limited by higher requirements. It is therefore important to consider the requirements for the respective area of application.
Comprehensive solutions for railway technology
Röchling has been active in railway technology for decades and offers a one-of-a-kind assortment of materials made from thermoplastics and glass fibre-reinforced materials especially for use in railway technology and are certified according to EN 45545-2:2013. These materials fulfil a number of requirement rates, including also for the highest hazard class HL 3, and are therefore suited to a broad array of applications. In addition to EN 45545-2:2013, several materials also additionally meet the norms and standards of other regions of the world, such as US rail vehicle standards NFPA130 – ASTM E162 and NFPA130 – ASTM E662 or the standards of Boeing- BSS 7239 and Bombardier SMP 800-C, which are used by many rail vehicle manufacturers in the United States. This allows components to be used both in the United States as well as in several SEA countries that also apply these standards.
In addition to its versatile material solutions, Röchling offers a wide range of processing options as well as fully assembled, finished components. Röchling is certified in accordance with DIN 6701-2 class A1 and EN 15085-2 C14 for gluing and welding of rail vehicles at its Haren site.
We are happy to provide you detailed information about the properties and applications of our materials for railway technology. An overview of our materials for railway technology is provided in the table below. Just use our contact form at the bottom of the page and write to us.