Location : Rome & Milan, Italy
Beginning of the project : November 2012
Leaders of the project : Giovanni De Lisi (CEO & Founder), Emanuele Occhipinti (Vice President), Firas Bunni (COO)
Sector : Railway infrastructure
Partners : Politecnico di Milano, Sustainable Development Foundation, CNR, Ecopneus, Indra
DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT
Greenrail is an award-winning Italian company, which has designed and produced a unique innovative and sustainable railway sleeper. It is a hybrid of a concrete and composite sleeper that combines the best features of both products.
Our railway sleepers are made of an inner core in concrete and an outer shell made of recycled materials: plastics from urban waste and End-of-Life Tires. This way Greenrail is able to reuse up to 35 tons of these secondary raw materials per each kilometer of a railway line and ensure numerous technical improvements such as longer lifespan, increased electrical insulation and track’s elasticity, reduced vibration and noise levels, diminished maintenance costs and better load distribution. Greenrail is also a tailor-made product, which means it can be designed according to various international specifications and applied on different kinds of railway lines, including metropolitan trains, proximity and long distance.
Thanks to the fact that Greenrail sleeper’s outer shell is made of secondary raw materials, the company allows to reuse 35 tons of recycled plastic from urban waste and rubber collected from end-of-life tires per each kilometer of a railway line, providing a significant contribution to the alarming waste management issue. This way Greenrail follows circular economy principles and uses waste as a resource to manufacture a better performing product.
LEADERS OF THE PROJECT
Giovanni De Lisi: Project Manager since 2003, for 9 years he was supervising maintenance and repairing of the railways. In 2011, his technical background and practical experience allowed him to invent and develop an innovative and eco-sustainable railway sleeper.
Emanuele Occhipinti: Lawyer, Roma Tre University graduate. In 2006 he attended the Harvard Summer School at the Harvard University. Used to work at the European Parliament in Brussels, and since 2009 acts as an expert of European Projects and internalization, acquiring a specific experience as Project Supervisor in development of a series of EU project proposals and projects’ implementation.
€ 2.000.000, in order to set up Greenrail France, design and manufacture a specific railway sleeper for the French market in Italy, and test it together with French railway operators on French railway lines.
The business model of Greenrail is based on licensing activities. Greenrail, in exchange for an up-front fee and royalties, provides the licensee with an exclusive license for production of its sleepers in their territory, specific know-how about the production and set up of the manufacturing plant of its railway sleepers. The technology is currently patented in over 70 countries in the world.
The present standard solution in the railway infrastructure sector, which has not seen any innovation in the past decades, is concrete railway sleeper. Introduced to the market at the beginning of the 20th century, this technology is way out-of-date and entails numerous problems, such as ballast pulverization, high noise and vibration levels, and last, but not least – elevated maintenance costs.
It is high time an innovation was introduced, also from the environmental point of view. The whole world is producing more and more waste every year, and a lot of it ends up in landfills or oceans. According to the newest studies, there will be more plastics than fish in the oceans by 2050. Every year we also generate around 1 billion waste tires – a material that is difficult to be disposed of and causes a lot of problems to the authorities.
Greenrail project since the very beginning of its existence has had a very European approach, confirmed by numerous European recognitions, such as the European Commission’s Seal of Excellence and funding of more than €2.4 million received from Horizon 2020 SME programme. In fact, thanks to the European Commission’s support, as of today Greenrail sleepers are ready to be commercialized, having passed all necessary technical tests and certifications.
Greenrail’s approach is to continue developing its revolutionary technology in Europe, especially in the Mediterranean region, in order to provide it with cutting-edge innovation in terms of sustainability, performance and savings.
France, as on the the European countries with the most constructed railway lines, could significantly benefit from using Greenrail railway sleepers in maintenance activities of their lines, as they ensure longer lifespan, lower ballast pulverization and more elasticity, which leads to important money and resources savings.
2012 – foundation of the company
2014 – beginning of a frutiful collaboration with Politecnico di Milano and its startup incubator Polihub
2015 – EC’s Seal of Excellence & SME Instrument Phase 1 funding
2016 – EC’s SME Instrument Phase 2 funding
2018 – Greenrail sleepers tested, certified and installed pilot tracks in 3 locations in Italy