Recent Projects in the Field of Track & Railway

(1) The Application of Optical Sensors for Railroad Top of Rail (TOR) Friction Modifier Detection and Measurements

The primary objectives of this research are to:

  • Develop technology to detect the condition of top-of-rail lubricity using laser optic reflective sensors and other appropriate optical sensors
  • Assess ToR material content for ToR lubricants, friction modifiers, and flange grease contamination
  • Conduct field tests for new technology for practical application accuracy
  • Develop design capable of movement onboard a Hyrail Vehicle or track geometry car
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(2) Predictive Machine Learning Models for Rail-Vehicle Dynamic Simulation

This project aims at using any available field testing results to “tune” a railcar dynamic model’s parameters to increase its predictive accuracy

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(3) Advanced Modeling of Railway Ballast for Improving Railroad Tamping Operation

The primary objectives of this research are to:

  • Develop modeling techniques for simulating tamping operation
  • Undertake parametric studies to optimize process variables
  • Explore new concepts for improving tamping results
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(4) Determination of Lateral Resistance of Deck Tie Fasteners on Smooth Top Steel Bridge Girders

The primary objectives of this research are to:

  • Experimentally determine the lateral resistance and spacing requirements of tie fasteners on smooth-top steel bridge girders
  • Study the effect of dapped vs. un-dapped bridge ties on lateral resistance
  • Create a design aid for tie fastener types and tie types studied (Table or Equation)
  • Prepare code language for adoption into AREMA Chapter 15
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(5) A Fundamental Study on the Rolling Contact Fatigue at the Microstructural Level

The primary objectives of this research are to:

  • Studying the effect of near surface grain characteristics on rolling contact fatigue (RCF)
  • Investigating the effect of pearlite properties (including the distance between layers and volume fraction of each phase) on RCF of rail
  • Experimental investigations on new and used rail samples to study the effect of loading during operation on the microstructural properties of the rail
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(6) Monitoring and Detecting Fouled Ballast using Forward Looking Infrared Radiometer (FLIR) Aerial Technology

The primary objectives of this research are to:

  • Use drone-based thermal imaging technology to rapidly and efficiently survey areas of track that may have fouled ballast
  • Provide a historical database for the extent of fouling over time
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(7) The Application of Doppler LIDAR Technology for Truck Geometry Assessment

The primary objectives of this research are to:

  • Demonstrate the applicability of LIDAR system for the simultaneous measurement of track speed, distance, track curvature, and track irregularity variations
  • Evaluate the accuracy of the LIDAR sensors in measuring track irregularities as compared with other established rail inspection techniques
  • Study the applicability of the Doppler LIDAR technology for capturing the track-induced dynamics and vibrations
  • Perform comprehensive field tests and collect real-time track geometry data from the Virginia Tech’s LIDAR system and the geometry car equipment for the purpose of performance evaluation and comparison purposes
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