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New composite brake materials from Federal Mogul could lead to quieter rail freight

Federal-Mogul Corporation (NASDAQ:FDML) is developing brake blocks that use advanced composite materials as part of a research program that aims to significantly reduce the noise generated by rail freight. By accelerating the technical and commercial development of composite brake blocks that are compatible with existing rolling stock, the German government-sponsored LäGiV project could reduce rolling noise by half.

"By working closely with railway operators, brake system suppliers and train manufacturers worldwide, Federal-Mogul is developing a new generation of brake products that will help to reduce noise from existing railway freight stock," said Dr Tim Hodges, chief engineer railways, Federal-Mogul. "We already supply a broad range of asbestos-free Ferodo disc brake pads and brake blocks and are continuously working to further improve rail freight’s environmental performance, safety and its economic competitiveness."

Unlike the K block used by new rolling stock, the friction characteristics of Federal-Mogul’s LL brake block are similar to those of a conventional grey cast iron block, allowing it to be retrofitted to existing vehicles at significantly reduced cost. The total number of older style rolling stock that would require modification totals around 370,000 units in Europe, some of which will be in service for another 20 years. The new composite blocks will achieve an average noise level reduction of 10dB, a reduction in the subjective sound volume of 50percent.

Sascha Montefusco, Federal-Mogul’s senior project manager responsible for coordinating the development of the new brake blocks, said, "We shall concentrate on composite brake blocks rather than exploring a sintered solution. With our experience, we believe we can develop a cost-effective product that completely satisfies all the technical requirements."

The project’s first major milestone is scheduled for Autumn 2011, when initial prototypes will be supplied to the Deutsche Bahn test centre, where the project is being coordinated. The new products are planned to be commercially available by the end of 2013.

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