Cement coating of wood for railway applications

Wooden railway sleepers are typically protected by creosote (coal tar). The creosote impregnation treatment delivers a highly durable wooden railway sleeper capable of achieving a service life of several decades while used in ground contact (use class 4). However, creosote is hazardous to the environment and will soon be banned across Europe. ‘CemSleeper’ seeks to investigate an innovative approach to the non-biocidal protection of railway sleepers made from laminated veneer lumber (LVL) using cement-based materials. The main goal is to develop a substitute product for creosote impregnated railway sleepers, in order to assist the wooden product market from losing further market share due to competition from steel reinforced concrete materials. The cement‐impregnation of single veneer layers before bonding to create the layered LVL railway sleeper delivers an element with an improved durability, while still complying with strength requirements. The impregnation of single beech veneers of 3 to 5 mm thick guarantees an impregnation throughout the entire cross-section of the veneer and therefore the entire cross-section of the innovative LVL CemSleeper. Process and production methods for manufacturing cement‐impregnated LVL‐Sleepers will be developed within the CemSleeper project. The newly developed railway sleeper will be characterized using standardized and scientific methods, focusing on durability, mechanical performance, dimensional stability, crack resistance and electrical conductivity.