Heating rail track points by sun and water


As part of their commitment to sustainable development and the ambitious objective of halving CO2 emissions by 2025, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) have retained BG, in cooperation with Rapperswil University of Technology, to study ways of heating rail track points without CO2 emissions.

From mid-October to mid-April, the SBB in fact heat no less than 7,500 points, two-thirds of them by electricity and one-third using natural gas and propane which emit CO2.

An innovative and promising process

The idea is to replace propane by synthetic methane produced locally by means of solar panels, water and air adsorption. The methane is then compressed and stored for later use. Known as Power-to-Gas, this process is currently one of the most innovative and promising technologies for sustainable energy production and is also one of BG’s specialities.

In addition to technical and industrial feasibility as well as the clarification of safety measures, this study is working to define the dimensions of two test facilities which will serve as the basis for a potential pilot installation.