UK-based steel products manufacturer British Steel has launched a premium zinc-coated rail, Zinoco® that can be installed in harsh environments where corrosion is expected to be the main cause of future rail replacement such as coastal lines, wet tunnels, level crossings, mineral lines and salt pans.
Zinoco®, the name of which derives from the words ‘Zinc for no corrosion’, offers superior corrosion protection compared to all current rail coating technologies on the market.
Contracts have already been secured across the UK, Ireland and France.
British Steel’s Rail Sector Head, Richard Bell, said the product was developed at the business’s headquarters in Scunthorpe and that extensive testing shows Zinoco® will typically outlast traditional uncoated rail by around five times in a broad range of aggressive environments. Zinoco® was developed by British Steel in direct response to Network Rail’s requirement for more durable corrosion protection. Network Rail called for a coating that would withstand the rigours of real-life installation and use.
Network Rail was looking for an impact-resistant product that would withstand minor mechanical damage and offer sacrificial protection to provide long term protection.
Protection against stray current corrosion was particularly important. The Zinoco® product provided the most complete protection against the full range of specified requirements of the many options that were tested.
Sacrificial protection is an electro-chemical reaction which occurs when the anode sacrifices itself in favour of the cathode. The resulting flow of electrons prevents a corrosive chemical reaction. With Zinoco® coated rail, the zinc rich (anode) coating corrodes in preference to the steel (cathode), therefore preventing the steel from corroding. The zinc oxide creates a strong barrier to further corrosion – in this way the protection of the metal is guaranteed, even when the zinc layer is slightly damaged.
The new Zinoco® plant has been built at British Steel’s Scunthorpe Rail and Section Mill (SRSM) and the automated facility means Zinoco® rails can be coated more efficiently than the previous coated rail product.