The winner of the international Swedish Steel Prize 2023 is Green Buffers from Sweden. The prize is awarded for their highly sophisticated use of energy-absorbing high-strength steel to make trains safer for passengers and more economical for operators.
“The Green Buffers system uses high-strength steel profiles to dissipate the energy from a train collision in a controlled way. Their new generation coupling technology opens up for sophisticated custom design solutions that will save lives and reduce costs,” says Eva Petursson, chair of the Swedish Steel Prize jury and head of SSAB’s research and innovation.
New-generation train coupling technology
Existing crash management systems for trains are primitive. Safety standards are based on technology from the 1960s or 1970s; even minor accidents result in derailments. This is where Roger Danielsson and his colleagues at Green Buffers saw room for improvement. Inspired by the automotive industry, they have developed an energy dissipation system based on high-strength steel that makes train travel safer for passengers and more economical for operators.
The system consists of twelve deformable units mounted in the coupling interfaces throughout the entire train set. In a collision the Strenx® 700 MC steel profiles in the units fold like an accordion, absorbing the impact of the shock in less than a second. By averting the initial peak force and by minimizing all other peak forces, energy from a collision is distributed in a controlled manner.
“Unlike with cars, practically all train collisions are frontal. This gives our system enormous significance,” argues Roger Danielsson. For further improvements in the future, the energy-absorbing units can be provided with sensors to provide even more information on energy absorption.
With their innovative system and their ambitious goal – zero uncontrolled derailments related to train accidents – Green Buffers have the potential to revolutionize train safety.
Runners-up DigJim from Norway, Gestamp from Spain, Levistor from Great Britain, and ZOOZ from Israel (shared nomination) were also celebrated at the award ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden on May 11.
Rewarding steel innovations
The Swedish Steel Prize celebrates engineering, cooperation, and steel innovations that lead to a better and more sustainable world. The winner receives a diploma, a statuette by the sculptor Jörg Jeschke and intense media exposure. In conjunction with the Swedish Steel Prize 2023, SSAB will make a SEK 100,000 donation to UNICEF in support of its efforts to provide quality education and learning opportunities to children and adolescents worldwide.