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For a smaller CO2 footprint

21 December 2022 | 

At voestalpine Railway Systems in Zeltweg, our largest production site for high-quality turnouts, CO2-neutral production has already been in place since 2010. Now, experts are taking a close look at the entire life cycle of the turnouts to further reduce the product's CO2 footprint.

In focus: the life cycle of the turnouts to reduce the product's CO2 footprint.

Initial efforts to reduce energy consumption at the Zeltweg site were already made in the 1980s.

25 years of structured environmental management with many measures have led to CO2-neutral production here since 2010,

explain Manfred Torschitz, Vice President Health, Safety, Environment & Energy of the Business Unit Railway Systems, and Astrid Raschhofer, Senior Vice President – Health, Safety, Environment & Energy of voestalpine Turnout Technology Zeltweg GmbH.

CO2-neutral production

A major contribution to the CO2-neutral site balance is made by the biomass district heating plant operated by Bioenergie. As a result, a large part of the heating requirement has been converted from natural gas to district heating using biomass as an energy source.

The company's own small hydropower plant on the Pöls River has been supplying CO2-free electricity for high-grade self-sufficiency since 2010. "Surplus" electricity is fed into the grid and thus replaces CO2 emissions, which are credited to the voestalpine Railway Systems site in the balance sheet and compensate for the currently remaining CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.

The Zeltweg site is thus already making a significant contribution to reducing the CO2 footprint of turnouts. After all, production is a major factor in CO2 emissions. But it's all about the entire life cycle of the product. "From the cradle to the grave, so to speak," explains Christian Aichberger from the System Solutions Development department of voestalpine Railway Systems. The decisive factor is therefore not only the emission quantities in the direct manufacture of turnouts, but also from other items such as the mining of raw materials, transport, service life and recycling.

Optimized life cycle to reduce the carbon footprint

voestalpine Railway Systems can report this CO2 footprint over the entire life cycle, which can be seen as a unique selling point in the industry, emphasizes Albert Jörg, Vice President System Solutions Development at voestalpine Railway Systems.

We analyze and illustrate how built-in elements that last longer affect overall emissions. In addition to production and CO2 reductions that can be realized here, the total service life of the turnout and achievable savings in maintenance and parts replacement play a special role here,

Jörg gives an example.

There is still a long way to go before the turnout is completely CO2-neutral, but the interim results are impressive: Currently, the overall life cycle of a turnout produced by the voestalpine Railway Systems Group in Zeltweg emits about a third less CO2 than the usual industrial standard.