Bamboo chicks, bubble-wraps, coolers: How Railways trying to keep isolation coaches cool

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NEW DELHI: From using bamboo chicks and bubble-wraps to heat-resistant coating and portable coolers, the Railways is trying innovative ways to beat the heat inside isolation coaches deployed to treat coronavirus patients.
In a statement, the Railways said on Friday that cover-sheets are also being placed over these coaches - deployed in five states to work as Covid care centres - to keep the interiors cool.
Bubble-wrap films are being applied on the coaches, which are expected to bring the inside temperatures down by up to one degree Celsius, it said.
Also, the Northern Railways coated the roof of isolation coaches with heat-reflective paint as a trial and found that the temperature inside can be reduced up to 2.2°C using this method, it said.
"Trials are also being planned for another coating developed in association with IIT, Mumbai. The trial would be done on 20/6/2020 and the results recorded," the statement said.
A senior official also told that the Railways has ordered a trial to paint the roofs of 100 converted coaches in Northern and North Central Railway as per standards prescribed by The Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO).
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, a trial was conducted on around 100 coaches of Humsafar Express, Jan Shatabdi Express, Antyodaya Express using another Make-in-India product, 3M Scotchkote Polytech Exp RG700, which is a solar-reflective material that can be applied on various metallic and non-metallic surfaces, officials said.
The Railways' Friday statement also said that it has made arrangements to provide bamboo chicks and other such materials to lower the temperature further.
A trial has been carried out by placing portable coolers inside the coaches as well, the Railways said, adding a temperature reduction of up to 3°C was achieved using them.
"Water mist systems are also being tried out. In the current season of dry air, it is expected that the resulting temperature reduction would enhance the comfort of expected patients," it said.
The issue of AC vs non-AC isolation coaches was discussed with the NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare before modifying the coaches for COVID-19 patients, the railways statement said.
It was agreed that AC coaches would not be suitable in view of the potential transmission risk of COVID-19 virus through AC ducting, and generally a higher ambient temperature was expected to assist in fighting the virus, the statement said, adding cross-circulation of air through open windows would also benefit patients.
The non-AC coaches would be a little warm in mid-June if the windows are kept closed, and the ambient temperature may also be around 43 °C. But, once mosquito nets are installed and the windows kept open, the cross circulation of air is expected, it said.
Even this kind of high temperature is expected to be temporary as the arrival of monsoon and rains would bring relief, it added.

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