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Beating the snow and ice

01 Aug 2003

PROBLEMS with snow and ice blocking points during cold weather can be avoided with IceSolution point heaters. Developed by Holland Railconsult, these use natural heat stored in the soil to heat the rails in winter and can work in reverse to prevent heat affecting rails in hot weather.

A fully-closed vertical heat exchanger installed deep in the ground extracts the natural heat which is stored up in the earth during the summer. The required ground loop length, heat pump capacity and heat exchanger construction is calculated to match a particular turnout design. The pipe network is manufactured from well-insulated recyclable plastic, with a heat-conducting paste between the heat exchanger and rail to increase efficiency.

An intelligent control system switches the system in and out of use as required, and the design will function during continuous snow fall of up to 50mm/h and temperatures down to -20íC.

Holland Railconsult claims IceSolution can give an 80% reduction in energy consumption compared to traditional point heaters, leading to a significant cost reduction. Maintenance costs are low, and CO2 emissions are cut to almost zero. The heat exchanger can remain in place during track maintenance, and is suitable for fitting to all types of turnout found on the Netherlands rail network.

Holland Railconsult, Netherlands

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