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Railways trying innovative ways to keep isolation coaches cool

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From using bamboo chicks to bubble-wraps and heat-resistant paint, the Railways is trying innovative ways to beat the heat inside isolation coaches deployed to treat coronavirus patients.

In a statement, the Railways said cover-sheets are also being placed over these coaches – deployed in five states to work as COVID care centers – to keep the interiors cool.

Bubble-wrap films are being applied on the coaches, which are expected to keep inside temperatures down by one degree Celsius, it said.

As a trial, the Northern Railways coated the roof of isolation coaches with heat-reflective paint and found that 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.

It also said that the Railways has made arrangements to coat the roofs of these coaches with a heat-reflecting paint or alternatively provide a bamboo chick etc which will lower the temperature further.

A trial has been done by placing portable coolers inside the coaches. A temperature reduction of up to 3 C was achieved using these coolers, the Railways said.

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 them for COVID-19 patients, it 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 degrees 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 temperature is expected to be temporary as the arrival of monsoon and rains would bring relief, it added.

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