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    CVRD Opts for Railroad Ties of Recycled Plastic

    By Keith R | October 2, 2007

    Topics: Environmental Protection, Waste & Recycling | No Comments »

    1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 2.00 out of 5)

    Brazil’s largest logistics operator and owner of three of its railroads, Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), has decided to start using ties made of recycled plastic and rubber rather than the traditional wood.  CVRD owns the railroads Estrada de Ferro Carajás (EFC), Estrada de Ferro Vitória a Minas (EFVM) and Ferrovia Centro-Atlântica (FCA), and accounts for roughly half of Brazil’s freight rail.

    Currently CVRD has 20 million ties in its 9,000 kilometers of rail, and starting in July 2008 will replace as many as one million of these with the special composite ties.

    CVRD has imported some plastic ties from the US, and is testing them in partnership with two universities, the State University of Campinas (Universidade Estadual de CampinasUnicamp) and University of São Paulo (USP).  Five hundred of the plastic ties have been laid in CVRD’s line between Minas and Vitória, the capital of Espirito Santo, and 1,200 have been placed on the Carajás line.

    What the three hope to do is to improve on the US design using PET from scrap bottles and rubber from scrap tires.  CVRD wants national firms to produce the new product, and is in negotiation with four firms — Ecologic Plastic (São Paulo – SP), Cogumelo (Rio de Janeiro – RJ) Wise Wod (SP) and Precon (Minas Gerais – MG) — about the project.

    CVRD had contemplated sticking with wooden ties, which are still the cheapest option (about R$150 per tie, vs. R$250 or more per steel tie), by switching to ties made of eucalyptus from reforestation plantations, but tests showed that the wood could not support the weight load of CVRD freight trains and had to had to be changed every three years.  Concrete, while more durable and able to support the load, is not flexible and ended up placing more wear on the locomotives and freight cars.  So far, plastic ties have proven capable of taking the load, just as durable (or more) than traditional wood ties, and their price falls somewhere between steel and concrete ties.

    And oh yes, they provide an end-market for recycled PET from post-consumer packaging and recycled rubber from scrap tires!

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