The importance of aerosol extinguishing systems for the rail sector
Paul van Trigt, CEO of Aero-X AG, explains the importance of aerosol extinguishing systems for the rail sector, and how the company can offer customised solutions to meet different requirements.
Please provide a brief overview of Aero-X® and why is the rail sector of importance for you?
Aero-X AG is based in Switzerland and has partners in several other countries. We have over 20 years of experience with aerosol extinguishing systems for different types of applications.
All engineering of the Aero-X® fire detection and suppression systems takes place in Switzerland. All systems are customised to the specific needs and requirements of the various application markets we are active in.
The main application markets in which Aero-X® sells fire detection and extinguishing systems are:
- Rolling stock and rail infrastructure
- Tunnelling and mining
- Power generation and distribution (including renewable energy and energy storage systems)
- Marine and offshore
- Industry and automation
- Automotive and transport (for which Aero-X® recently successfully passed the UN ECE addendum 106 Regulation 107 tests).
All Aero-X® fire extinguishing systems are based on the Stat-X® aerosol fire suppression technology. Aero-X AG is the European master distributor of this technology. Some of the advantages of our Stat-X® aerosol fire suppression technology includes high quality and long lifecycle, high modularity, high efficiency and effectiveness, environmentally friendly and harmless to human beings, and an excellent price/performance ratio.
The aerosol fire suppression technology works with virtually all fire detection and control systems. Aero-X® has developed its own Aero-X® fire detection and extinguishing control panels. Depending on the specific needs, requirements and conditions of the respective applications, the Aero-X® systems are completed with suitable fire detection and control systems. Next to Stat-X®, Aero-X® is also distributor of Protector Wire® Linear Heat Detection and Thermac® Type E heat detectors. All these individual pieces of the puzzle are combined to and integrated in a complete fire detection and extinguishing system, meeting specific customer needs and requirements.
The intensity of transporting people and cargo on rail tracks is increasing extremely. This leads to very tight time schedules in order to have all the different trains running on the tracks every hour while bringing the people to their destination on time. Because of this increased frequency and the higher number of people traveling by train, safety has gained importance in the rail sector.
What have you learned by working on motorway tunnelling projects that you think the rail tunnel construction sector would also benefit from?
Whether a tunnel is to eventually be used for road, rail or any other purpose plays from a construction project point of view a minor role. All these tunnelling projects are characteristically similar and have a high demand for safety. Suitable fire detection and extinguishing systems are just one part of the overall safety concept in tunnelling projects. All systems used in tunnelling projects and installed on the heavy-duty construction equipment must fulfil special requirements as a result of the harsh and tough environmental conditions in which the miners and equipment have to operate and perform their work.
Furthermore, it’s a fact that a tunnel, which is under construction, is in most of the cases a dead-end road with only limited escape routes.
Besides that, the requirements also differ depending on the geographical location of the specific project because of local standards and regulations.
The underground operating conditions are very harsh and rough. A high shock and vibration level, high humidity combined with and lots dust and a high noise level demands a lot from personnel and equipment. Besides this the projects are nowadays confronted with a huge time pressure.
Therefore, as for all equipment used in these projects, the fire detection and extinguishing systems have to be extremely robust and show an extraordinarily high level of availability and reliability.
The choice of the suitable fire detection technology is also of utmost importance in order to prevent from false alarms and unwanted discharge of the extinguishing system.
Because of the tight time frame of all tunnelling projects, fire detection and extinguishing systems that are easy to install, simple to operate and only need a little or almost no time to maintain, are of key importance.
Aero-X® is, and has been, present in hundreds of tunnelling projects around the globe, protecting the miners as well as heavy-duty construction equipment against fires. This makes Aero-X® one of the most experienced companies worldwide in the field of fire detection and extinguishing solutions for tunnelling projects. This expertise from Aero-X® also allows for the development, the engineering and the design of fire detection and extinguishing systems to protect rolling stock as well as rail infrastructure.
What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities when it comes to fire protection of rolling stock?
The rolling stock industry is facing an increasing demand of fulfilling requirements. On one hand these are defined by the general international standards the rolling stock equipment has to comply with and on the other hand the increased demands from rolling stock operators, for example the number of passengers at a given maximum vehicle length or the speed of the train on a given track. All these various items must be integrated in the rolling stock equipment. One important issue is that although all these extra requirements must be incorporated in the rolling stock, the wheel load on the tracks has to stay below certain limits, because this has a direct influence on the wear and tear of the tracks.
This is where the Aero-X® fire detection and extinguishing solutions play an important role. The solutions are characterised by a low specific weight, compact specific size and easy installation, making it easier for the rolling stock designers to fulfil the safety requirements of customers and authorities without having to make big concessions on other parts of the design. Besides that, the Aero-X® fire detection and extinguishing solutions can be applied as compensation measures in case other equipment, such as for example electrical cabinets, cannot fulfil the safety requirements of the EN45545, for instance. In that case the weight of the respective piece of equipment can be kept lower by applying an active Aero-X® fire protection system. This is, for example, applied in ticketing machines in public transport. Aero-X® is protecting hundreds of these ticketing machines. especially in underground public transport facilities as well as inside rolling stock and other public transport vehicles.
To what extent do you think innovation and technology is playing a crucial part in changing the future of safety in rail?
Increased global environmental awareness is, besides a lot of other changes and developments, leading to the use of new materials and new energy technologies in order to drive rolling stock in an even more environmentally friendly manner. These new innovative technologies incorporate a lot of different challenges and will also guide the development of new fire detection and extinguishing systems. Aero-X® is continuously staying at the pace of these developments by designing and engineering new solutions for future applications. By doing this, Aero-X® is keeping the fire safety on a high level and prepared for the future.