Wabtec has begun trials of the transit rail industry’s first air conditioning system using natural R290 refrigerant, a clean and environmentally friendly option. This Wabtec Green Air technology is part of the company’s initiative to bring clean, sustainable solutions to the transit market.

“Transit authorities continually look for opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations,” said Lilian Leroux, president of Wabtec’s Transit business. “Traditional synthetic refrigerants provide a cool, comfortable environment for passengers, but those options are not healthy for the environment.”

The refrigerant R290 used in the Green Air system has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of three. Traditional heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems use synthetic refrigerants, such as R-134a, which has a GWP of 1430. These high-GWP refrigerants trap substantially more heat in the atmosphere than the natural R290-based solutions.

“Green Air also provides economic benefits for our operators,” said Leroux. “The solution meets the long-term regulatory requirements, eliminating costly equipment changes needed to adhere to environmental standards. The Green Air technology also can be integrated seamlessly into the infrastructure of today’s train systems and offers excellent cooling and heat pump operation for all climatic zones.”

The company is conducting a 12-month operational trial of the Green Air system on a Deutsche Bahn regional train. The trial will validate the passenger comfort, maintenance and cost effectiveness of the system in regular operations.

 The Green Air system was developed at Wabtec’s center of competence in Leipzig, Germany, and will be manufactured at its plant in Pilsen, Czech Republic.