United Wagon Co Type 15-6901 nitric acid tank wagon for fertiliser producer Uralchem.

RUSSIA: United Wagon Co has delivered the first of 30 tank wagons of a new design developed to carry to carry highly corrosive concentrated nitric acid for fertiliser producer Uralchem.

The Type 15-6901 wagons designed by UWC’s All-Union Research & Development Centre for Transportation Technology have a tank volume of 54·78 m3 and an axleload of 25 tonnes, increasing the payload by a third compared to older designs. They are being manufactured at UWC’s TikhvinChemMash plant, with Arconik SMZ supplying corrosion-resistant aluminium plates and Sespel undertaking friction stir welding of the tanks. The order was financed by Alfa Leasing.

The wagons are designed for a service life of 40 years, compared to 20 years for the previous design, with maintenance intervals of 800 000 km or eight years compared to 210 000 km or two years.

UWC estimates that there are currently around 200 nitric acid tank wagons in service in Russia, forming a critical part of the fertiliser supply chain. These have an average age of 32 years, and around 80% will reach the end of their life by 2022. ‘Despite the small number of such wagons and the narrow market segment, the importance of these services cannot be overestimated’, said Kirill Kyakk, CEO of the All-Union Research & Development Centre for Transportation Technology, on February 2. The previous model of aluminium tank wagon was designed in 1963 and manufactured in the late 1980s, since when ‘rail transport and industrial safety requirements have changed significantly’.

‘This project was a challenging one’, Kyakk said. ‘At the design stage we considered not only the high performance characteristics and the level of hazardous freight insulation during transportation, but also the economic efficiency. In addition to the design works, we performed comprehensive testing of the new tank material and welded joints. As a result, a tank car with radically improved performance has been developed, certified and put into mass production.’

This is the second project undertaken by UWC with Arconik Russia, following the development of a grain hopper car certified last year. ‘We upgraded equipment and fine-tuned the technology of aluminium plate production in accordance with the client’s specifications’, said Arconik President Maksim Smirnov. Arconik sees good prospects for greater use of aluminium in the rail sector, and is ‘ready to provide wagon companies with improved products so as to create a fleet of innovative cars.’