Breathe Easy: Knorr-Bremse Releases clean[air]

Written by Andrew Corselli
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All photos via Knorr-Bremse.

Knorr-Bremse hopes to support railway operators worldwide and bolster health and comfort in rail transport with its clean[air] technology, developed by Knorr-Bremse’s climate control brand MERAK.

clean[air] aims to “rapidly restore” air quality and “drastically reduce” any airborne concentration of aerosols and pathogens. It has been developed over decades of rail climate control practice. It acts in three dimensions that can be deployed in a customized multi-layer strategy to combine short-term effectivity with sustainable long-term action:

  • Optimized air distribution: MERAK systems feature aerolic architectures that maximize comfort while minimizing transversal airflow through the passenger compartment (e.g. for Italy’s high-speed fleet since 2014). The systems prioritize vertical patterns, i.e. air injection from compartment ceilings and air suction from compartment floors, as well as air renewal in periods demanding sanitation.
  • Long-life passive and near-field active filters: MERAK systems are equipped with multi-stage filtering systems that can be easily fitted into existing trains and are able to arrest all particle sizes below 30 micrometers (μm) with efficiencies of up to 99%—a level similar to high-efficiency filters, but without the detrimental pressure drop and energy consumption, as already tested on several Metro and high-speed applications, e.g. in Asia.
  • Air purifiers: MERAK systems feature UV-C lamps, first deployed on high-speed trains in Russia in 2009 and later expanded to commuter trains in 2015, e.g. in Belarus, and the more recently developed plasma technology, enabling the destruction of residual microorganisms. As early as 2007, tests were conducted with bacteria and corona-type viruses, achieving greater than 90% sanitization after only 30 seconds of exposure and complete absence of bacterial activity on filter surfaces within less than 30 minutes, thus providing enhanced safety for passengers and rail staff.
UV-C lamp for HVAC systems for rail vehicles.

“As a leading systems innovator for heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology, it is within our best interest to assist rail operators worldwide in restoring normality in the use of public transport and reactivating mobility by rail,” said Dr. Jürgen Wilder, Member of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse and responsible for its Rail Division.

“Providing state-of-the-art solutions for air distribution, active and passive filtering and purification, as well as systems know-how, we have mobilized a dedicated, distributed and multi-disciplinary team to support our partners,” said Dr. Peter Radina, Member of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse and also responsible for the HVAC business of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems.

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