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Coating Aims to Protect in Rail Fires

Thursday, November 29, 2012

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Global engineering group Trelleborg has introduced a fire-retardant protective coating designed to slow combustion of trains and save lives.

DragonCoat is formulated to address a serious need in the transportation industry, the Swedish company reports.

“Ever since the King's Cross Fire of 1987, fire safety has been a priority for railways around the world—particularly for underground systems, but also for any vehicles that run through the tunnels,” said Bill Mortel, Director of Advanced Technologies at Trelleborg Industrial AVS.

King's Cross Fire - London, 1987
Christopher Newberry / Wikimedia Commons

The protective coating is designed to help avert disasters like the King's Cross Fire that struck London's Underground in November 1987; 31 people perished in the blaze.

The King’s Cross Fire in London’s Underground rail system began in an elevator shaft and killed 31 people.

Delaying Combustion

The manufacturer says DragonCoat is the first coating to give a significant degree of protection to natural rubber suspension components by delaying the combustion of the main body of rubber. The company says the coating can flex throughout its service life while retaining its elasticity.

“DragonCoat has no impact on the flexibility or performance of the natural rubber spring, and it even enhances the product's oil resistance,” Mortel said.

“For train builders and operators, it represents the first technology to offer a significant degree of fire protection for all the train's vital anti-vibration and suspension components, so helping improve survival rates for passengers.”

The coating was recently introduced at InnoTrans 2012, the international trade fair for transport technology, held in Berlin.

Formulation and Durability

Lab testing has shown that a coated suspension component with a volume of 10 liters of natural rubber, when exposed to a gas flame for two minutes, self-extinguishes after approximately 12 minutes, releasing minimal heat and smoke, according to the manufacturer.

DragonCoat - Trelleborg

The manufacturer says DragonCoat is the first coating to offer significant fire protection for train components.

Conversely, an unprotected component will ignite easily, produce heat and heavy smoke, and continue to burn, according to Trelleborg.

DragonCoat also reduces toxic fumes (carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) to levels compliant with the strictest international regulation (CEN TS 45455 – part 2), the manufacturer says.

The coating’s life expectancy is comparable to that of the components it is designed to cover, the manufacturer reports. The coating has been patented in the EU, and worldwide patents are pending.

More information:


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fatalities; Flame-retardant coatings; Intumescent; Rail; Railcars

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