- The new company, called Acustrain, is located in Bizkaia and will be dedicated to manufacturing and installing low-level modular systems, based on concrete and absorbent materials, to provide acoustic shielding against rolling noise from railways in urban environments.
- The aim of the TECNALIA research and technological development centre and the infrastructure and the construction specialist Becsa, which is part of the Simetría Group, is to market an innovative solution with an estimated market volume of more than 400 million euros in Spain alone.
- The objective is to improve people's quality of life by solving a problem that affects 6% of the European population.
- Acustrain has already completed its first installation at Ermua station, an ETS (Euskal Trenbide Sarea/Red Ferroviaria Vasca) station, and has won several awards, including the international award for innovation in the public sector at the prestigious Quality Innovation Awards.
Derio, March 11, 2021. The TECNALIA research and technological development centre, together with the infrastructure and construction company Becsa, which is part of the Simetría Group, has created a new start-up to mitigate the noise levels of trains in cities. The start-up, called Acustrain, will be dedicated to designing, manufacturing and installing noise barriers, based on concrete and absorbent materials, to mitigate the noise caused by rolling noise from railways in urban environments.
This is an innovative solution, supported by the deep tech venture builder TECNALIA Ventures to accelerate it, which responds to a demand not covered by the current market, and which it is estimated could generate business in Spain of more than 400 million euros per year. Acustrain's ultimate goal is to improve people's quality of life and solve a problem that affects 6% of the European population by improving their noise comfort, thereby reducing pathologies caused by high levels of noise pollution.
The start-up has already completed its first installation at Ermua station, an ETS (Euskal Trenbide Sarea/Red Ferroviaria Vasca) station. This is a low-level noise barrier installation, which was completed in 2020 and is 310 metres long. It covers both directions of traffic and particularly complex sections (slopes, curves, double tracks, confined spaces, etc.), where conventional shielding solutions cannot be installed. According to the project managers, the results of this installation “are very satisfactory as far as the impact study is concerned, as the maximum noise pollution levels for urban environments have not been exceeded in any case”. It should be noted that minimising rail noise is high on the sector's agenda and the main railway managers are already adopting action plans to implement solutions.
The new company is located on the Bizkaia Science and Technology Park, and will start up with a team of 2 people with a projected turnover of more than 5 million euros before the fourth year of operation.
Pioneering technological solution
The new development is a low-level modular noise barrier system of less than 1.5 metres in height, based on a concrete structure, with noise absorption capacity provided by the geometric design of the front plate and the addition of absorbent material. It is designed to reduce the propagation of noise generated from the contact and vibration of the lower elements of a train and the elements that make up the track, predominantly in those sections where the speed is below 150 km/h, i.e. in urban environments.
The development has been possible thanks to the work carried out over the last 4 years by researchers at TECNALIA specialising in Environment and Sustainability in collaboration with the R&D team at Becsa (Simetría Group), which managed to transform a technological development into a product with added value for the market.
Acustrain's solution has the following advantages, among others: it does not require additional foundations, as it is anchored by the solution itself and complies with the railway legislation for elements that are positioned close to the track; it solves the complexity of being installed on curved sections and sections with changes in gradient; it achieves noise attenuation equal to or greater than that obtained with a conventional acoustic screen located further away from the source; it is less expensive than a conventional barrier of the same effectiveness and, due to its low height and appropriate weight, it has less visual impact and does not pose a problem to the impact of wind loads. Consequently, the solution respects the clearances imposed by operators and does not hinder evacuation in the event of an incident.
As far as the next steps are concerned, Acustrain will seek to consolidate its business in the domestic market and then deploy its international strategy, prioritising the European market. To this end, the start-up will enter into agreements with local prescribers and prefabrication companies with which it already has a relationship. At the same time, it will continue developing the R&D of products in collaboration with current partners with the aim of creating solutions with greater added value, incorporating aspects such as local renewable generation, sensors to extend the Smart City concept and the use of acoustic absorbent materials that also have the capacity to absorb specific air pollutants such as CO2, among others.
TECNALIA is a leading research and technological development centre in Europe, with 1,400 experts representing 30 different nationalities, focusing on transforming technology into GDP to improve people's quality of life, by creating business opportunities for companies. Through TECNALIA Ventures, the centre works towards identifying and rolling out business opportunities with commercial possibilities, implementing an advanced technology asset incubation programme.
About BECSA (Simetría Group)
Becsa is a benchmark construction company which is part of the Simetría Grupo and has more than 80 years experience in the infrastructure and building sector, and a total workforce of 3,600 people. Thanks to the implementation more than 10 years ago of its R&D and innovation Department, Becsa has been able to work on innovative solutions that add value to society, promote sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of infrastructures.
For further information
- Itziar Blanco (+34 681 273 464)