Research Papers: Contact Mechanics

Real-Time Measurement of Dynamic Wheel-Rail Contacts Using Ultrasonic Reflectometry

[+] Author and Article Information
Lu Zhou

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Sheffield,
Mappin Street,
Sheffield S1 3JD, UK
e-mail: zhoul540@gmail.com

Henry Brunskill

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Sheffield,
Mappin Street,
Sheffield S1 3JD, UK
e-mail: henry.brunskill@sheffield.ac.uk

Martin Pletz

Department of Polymer Engineering and Science,
Montanuniversitaet Leoben,
A-8700 Leoben, Austria
e-mail: Martin.Pletz@unileoben.ac.at

Werner Daves

Department of Polymer Engineering and Science,
Montanuniversitaet Leoben,
A-8700 Leoben, Austria;
Institute of Mechanics, Montanuniversitaet Leoben,
A-8700 Leoben, Austria
e-mail: werner.daves@mcl.at

Stephan Scheriau

voestalpine Schienen GmbH,
Kerpelystraße 199,
A-8700 Leoben, Austria
e-mail: Stephan.Scheriau@voestalpine.com

Roger Lewis

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Sheffield,
Mappin Street,
Sheffield S1 3JD, UK
e-mail: roger.lewis@sheffield.ac.uk

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Tribology Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Tribology. Manuscript received July 20, 2018; final manuscript received March 24, 2019; published online April 16, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Sinan Muftu.

J. Tribol 141(6), 061401 (Apr 16, 2019) (9 pages) Paper No: TRIB-18-1281; doi: 10.1115/1.4043281 History: Received July 20, 2018; Accepted March 25, 2019

The contact condition between the wheel and the rail is paramount to the lifespan, safety, and smooth operation of any rail network. The wheel/rail contact condition has been estimated, calculated, and simulated successfully for years, but accurate dynamic measurement has still not been achieved. Methods using pressure-sensitive films and controlled air flow have been employed, but both are limited. The work described in this paper has enabled, for the first time, the measurement of a dynamic wheel/rail contact patch using an array of 64 ultrasonic elements mounted in the rail. Previous work has successfully proved the effectiveness of ultrasonic reflectometry for static wheel/rail contact determination. The dynamic real-time measurement is based on previous work, but now each element of an array is individually pulsed in sequence to build up a linear measurement of the interface. These cross-sectional, line measurements are then processed and collated resulting in a two-dimensional contact patch. This approach is able to provide not only a contact patch, but more importantly, a detailed and relatively high-resolution pressure distribution plot of the contact. Predictions using finite element methods (FEM) have also been carried out for validation. Work is now underway to increase the speed of the measurement.

Copyright © 2019 by ASME
Topics: Pressure , Rails , Wheels , Stress
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Fig. 1

(a) A diagram showing how to scale the surface asperities coming into contact and (b) how the interface behaves as a series of springs of stiffness K

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Fig. 2

Full-scale wheel/rail test-rig (1: vertical actuator; 2: loading frame; 3: longitudinal drive system; 4: lateral ram; 5: wheel; 6: rail)

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Fig. 3

Ultrasonic scanning array and multiplexor

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Fig. 4

Array longitudinal position in the rail

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Fig. 5

Array lateral position in the railhead

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Fig. 7

Ultrasound signals on an oscilloscope

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Fig. 8

Reflection coefficient map of one scan

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Fig. 9

Contact pressure map of one scan

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Fig. 10

Full contact pressure maps at a 40 kN load at 1 mm/s

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Fig. 11

Contact pressure maps at 1 mm/s

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Fig. 12

Contact pressure maps at 5 mm/s

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Fig. 13

Reflection coefficients along the lateral direction

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Fig. 14

The contact area–lower bound pressure curve under different loads

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Fig. 15

(a) Contact area comparison and (b) maximum contact pressure comparison

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Fig. 16

The measured wheel profile and the assumed rail profile used in the finite element model

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Fig. 17

The slot worked into the rail with the corresponding dimensions in mm

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Fig. 18

Lateral displacements in the rail for (a) the model without a slot and (b) the model with a slot and vertical displacements for (c) the model without a slot and (d) the model with a slot. The results correspond to the model with a vertical load of 120 kN.

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Fig. 19

Contact pressures for 120 kN vertical load for the (a) the model without slot and (b) the model with a slot

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Fig. 20

Actual wheel/rail contact

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Fig. 21

Contact pressure displayed on a 1:1 3D rail model

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Fig. 22

A graph showing the number of measurements as the rail vehicle passes over the array transducer as a function of pulse repetition frequency

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Fig. 23

A diagram showing the possible options for transducer placement on the wheel for flange detection



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