STUTTGART, GERMANY (Dec. 12, 12 p.m. ET) — Eight companies and institutes are involved in developing hybrid sandwich structures for railway applications in the PURtrain project.
PURtrain aims to achieve “functional integrated lightweight structures in multi-material design”. A major aim is reducing the energy used by trains making frequent stops and starts between stations.
The project received 2.3 million euros in funding from the German BMBF ministry of education and research, and is also supported by Jülich Research Center.
Details of the project were revealed in a paper at the AVK reinforced plastics conference in Stuttgart by Frank Henning, head of the Fraunhofer ICT chemical technology institute, which is a PURtrain partner.
Henning said success in the project depends on the efficient and ecological production of large composites sandwich structures on an industrial scale in volumes below 100 parts/year. Other challenges include: the need to meet demands on fire and flame protection as set out by CEN/TN 45545; studies into the design and dimensions of the sandwich structures; and improvements in the production process.
The project involves making a technology demonstrator part - a 4.5 meter x 2.4 meter x 0.8 meter self-supporting diesel engine cover for the Bombardier Transportation Itino series trains. The key process for this is polyurethane sprayed over a sandwich of pre-assembled face sheet and core structures, followed by compression molding into finished panels.
Henning showed four base panels and four side panels forming the basis of the design for the train engine cover. These should consist of a polycarbonate honeycomb core with long and continuous fibres in the outer layers, as well as an aesthetic top surface layer. This type of structure should also provide enhanced noise insulation.