At the end of September 2013 Eltherm installed its point heating system on two switch points at the level crossing Jaegerstrasse in Burbach, Germany for field testing. The very first snowfall in December allowed the technicians on-site an ideal first test run under winter conditions.
The field testing of the modern electrical point heating system “El-Point” was arranged to enable technical feedback and approval from the German Deutsche Bahn. The system will now continue to run until spring 2015, during two winter periods in permanent operation. After this period a final evaluation will take place. Although international field test exercises have already shown enormous potential for energy-savings compared to common metal heating elements, this field testing is focusing on reliability of the system. The system was designed with 300 watts per meter to meet DB regulation 954.9101. To have a truly realistic impression of the daily operation, the heating system was connected to a DB-owned control system with weather station. This ensures that the heating will only be switched on as dictated by weather conditions.
Timing this year has been fortunate and the project engineers have been able to view the system operating after several centimetres snow within just a few hours of commencing the test. The two systems, heating two stock rails of ten meter lengths, have provided error-free and efficient operation from the outset. The Eltherm team onsite recorded the performance of the heating system for later evaluation with infrared camera imaging. First results perfectly met Eltherm's expectations.
Field testing on other tracks in Scandinavia, Russia and China also showed that the “El-Point” system provides time-saving on installations and up to a 30 percent energy-saving during operation — all this with increased reliability and longer life-cycle than commonly used metal heating elements. Delivery of the cable on drum and the ability to cut to the required lengths means that it is no longer a requirement to have different heating element sizes on-stock, providing logistical cost savings.
The Eltherm team is confident that “El-Point” will excell during its test period in Burbach and enable approval of the system for the German market.