Title page for ETD etd-10272007-201624


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Charlton, Zachary
URN etd-10272007-201624
Title Innovative Design Concepts for Insulated Joints
Degree Master of Science
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Ahmadian, Mehdi Committee Chair
Southward, Steve C. Committee Member
West, Robert L. Jr. Committee Member
Keywords
  • Ceramic Coating
  • Railroad
  • Insulated Railroad Joint
  • Elastic Foundation
  • Finite Element
  • Rail Wheel Load Characterization
Date of Defense 2007-10-22
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
The main goal of this research is to develop new and innovative designs for insulated rail joints for improved life cycle and higher cost effectiveness. The research focuses on using electrically insulating materials that replace the epoxy used in current bonded insulated joints. Insulated joints (commonly known as “IJs”) are widely used on railways to electrically insulate rail segments from each other, while mechanically connecting them together. The electrical insulation is necessary for accommodating track signals. The mechanical strength is needed to ensure the rail and IJs are able to withstand the vertical, longitudinal, and lateral forces that commonly occur on track.

Insulating materials that can replace the epoxy used in bonded insulated joints are researched. The electrical insulation properties and mechanical strength of different materials are examined to determine the suitability of different materials for use in insulated joint. The most promising materials for use are determined to be fiber reinforced polymers and ceramics. Insulated joint designs are developed to accentuate the strengths of these two materials. The Insulating Metal Composite (IMC) insulated joint design that uses ceramics is determined to be the most promising of the new designs and is pursued through prototype fabrication.

This particular joint design is analyzed structurally using both closed form analysis and FEA analysis using the software package ABAQUS. Electrical analysis using PSPICE is carried out on the joint. Prototypes of several design iterations of the insulating metal composites are built and tested. A proof of concept static bending test of the insulating metal composites used to build the IMC insulated joint is performed using a Tinius Olsen compressive tester. A rolling-wheel load test is performed on a prototype IMC component installed in rail. Finally, a prototype of a complete IMC insulated joint is fabricated and installed on the FAST test track at TTCI facility in Pueblo, Colorado for field evaluation. Electrical testing using a megohmmeter is performed on a complete prototype joint.

Structural analysis shows that the components used to construct the IMC insulated joint can withstand the vertical and longitudinal loads applied to them. Electrical analysis shows that the joint can provide adequate electrical insulation and provides the required dielectric strength in the AREMA Manual for Railway Engineering. The proof of concept test shows that an IMC component can withstand 100 kips of static load without damage. The rolling-wheel load test shows that the ceramic in the IMC components can withstand a large shock load and that the rail used in the IMC insulated joints can survive repeated and shock loads. The testing of the prototype joint on the FAST track, which is ongoing at this time has shown that the new joint concept is fully capable of providing adequate electrical insulation and mechanical strength throughout the expected life of IJs.

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