Mar 28, 2012Science and Technology
Fraunhofer develops material for potential use in building lightweight trains

The less trains weigh, the more economical they are to run. A new material capable of withstanding even extreme stresses has now been developed. It is suitable for a variety of applications, not the least of which are diesel engine housings on trains -- and it makes these components over 35 percent lighter than their steel and aluminum counterparts. Working together with Bombardier GmbH, KraussMaffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH, Bayer MaterialScience AG, DECS GmbH, the DLR’s Institute for Vehicle Concepts, the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT in Pfinztal have now developed a polyurethane-based sandwich material that is extremely resilient. The researchers opted for a sandwich construction to ensure component stability: Glass fiber reinforced polyurethane layers form the outer facings, while the core is made of paper honeycomb. Polyurethane is a bulk plastic combining two substances. Since it can be adapted to fulfill various requirements, it is referred to as a ‘customizable material.' In foamed form it is soft, and can be used for example as a material for mattresses; in compact form it is strong and hard. 

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