CHENGDU — Many scientists score major achievements in the prime of their lives, but for innovators like Wang Qichang, being an octogenarian might mean the start of a new pursuit.
The 89-year-old professor at Southwest Jiaotong University’s school of civil engineering is a renowned expert in China’s iconic high-speed railway technology.
Over the past 70 years, Wang has been tirelessly pursuing innovation in the field. “All my research projects are for innovation,” Wang said. “I have always delved into the most pressing issues, chosen to tackle the most critical problems and explored the most cutting-edge technologies.”
In the early 1980s, Wang translated a book on the track technology of Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains, offering a rare insight into the relevant subject for Chinese researchers. During that period, Wang began teaching high-speed rail technology to students.
In 2012, Wang, who was in his late 70s, began to tackle the issue of noise along high-speed rail lines in an effort to improve train service.
“Trains running at a high speed generate noise, which affects the life and work of people along the lines. Therefore, barriers need to be built to block the noise,” Wang said, acknowledging that it was not an easy task to accomplish.
At that time, sound barrier technology imported from Germany was widely used along high-speed railway lines across China, as the country lacked home-grown technology in the area.
After more than three years of efforts, Wang worked with universities and enterprises to jointly develop “ultra-high strength concrete sound barriers” for high-speed railways, achieving a technological breakthrough for China.
The sound barrier, which is integrated into the railway bridge, is a design that abandons the traditional bolted connection and requires no maintenance work. It is made of high-performance and high-endurance powder concrete.
The sound absorption board is made of materials with wedges, cavities and ultra-micro holes, which ensures efficient sound absorption and insulation, Wang explained. A technical evaluation showed that the key technology developed by Wang and his team is among the most advanced in the world.
The innovative sound barriers have been in use along two high-speed railway lines for more than six years without a glitch, he noted. “The integrated design ensures that the sound barriers need no maintenance, which meets our expectations.”
Despite approaching 90 years of age, Wang continues to have an appetite for innovation and is willing to work more.
“As the railway industry is poised for greater development, I have new work to do and new challenges to conquer,” he said.