Rail-energy knowledge exchange on emerging materials (ALCHEMy)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

In order to improve the management of railway networks and provide the timetables that passengers demand throughout the week, track components with greater durability that are easier to maintain are essential. With these in place less access will be needed to the track, keeping it free for trains.

The aim of this project is, through the use of process modelling and full-scale testing and modelling, to enable the effective design of a laser clad layer of premium material for application to a range of track components to reduce wear and the likelihood of rolling contact fatigue occurring. These are the two most prolific damage mechanisms in railway track. A major goal of the project is to comprehensively study the behaviour of cladded components on a test track to validate the modelling and laboratory work.

The technique, as well as improving component life and reducing maintenance needs, will reduce costs by allowing lower grade rail material to be used and also in-situ repairs could be facilitated eventually, negating the need for components to be removed from track when they reach the end of their life.

The project, while focussed on railway track applications will also consider vehicle components in parallel activity and ensure that the knowledge and fundamental knowledge gained on the integrity of cladded components through multi-scale modelling of different geometries and cladding parameters is transferred to other sectors where cladding is used, such as energy, oil and gas and aerospace.

Planned Impact

Our study will have significant impact on the whole life costs of railway track components and through the need for less maintenance will ease network management in the push for a 24/7 railway. The benefits from the projects will also be transferred to impact on other sectors such as nuclear, energy and aerospace. This research will target EPSRC economic and societal criteria including:

- Contributing towards wealth creation and economic prosperity - the knowledge base of all partners involved will be enriched and exploitation, through the production of new longer life railway track or vehicle components, will be enabled. The problems to be tackled by ALCHEMy are faced by railways worldwide bringing global market opportunities for UK produced technology. Further exploitation is anticipated through transfer of knowledge to other safety critical industries.
- Enhancing the research knowledge and skills of businesses and organisations - through knowledge transfer to LCT as the cladding service provider, their clients who will manufacture the components and Network Rail who will use the components and the cladding process as a component repair option.
- Enhancing the effectiveness and sustainability of organisations - the main beneficiary will be Network Rail who will have reduced maintenance costs and improved network management in the future, but for other organisations it will open up new markets that will help ensure economic sustainability.
- The commercialisation of scientific knowledge leading to the generation of new processes, products and services - exploitation of the technique will lead to a range of new processes and products across the railway industry and other sectors.

Exploitation will be considered from the start of the project and supported by a specific work package. This will be enables through the industrial partners and their supply chains. These cover the railway industry and also give access to sectors including nuclear, energy and aerospace.

A key milestone for the project is the implementation of laser cladding in the field alongside a whole life cost and risk assessment. This will ensure that impact can be made in the life of the project. The parallel PhD studentship to be funded at UoS will run beyond the project life and extend the impact to railway vehicles.
 
Description We have developed a rigorous method for designing and applying a layer of durable material onto a length of rail track to increase its wear or rollling contact fatigue life or to effect a repair.
Exploitation Route We are working with rail infrastructure owners (e.g. Network Rail) and rail manufacturers (British Steel) to implement this in the field for trials. Clad rail will be in track at the British Steel plant at Scunthorpe shortly and further projects are being discussed with Network Rail to build on the In2Track project they funded, to build a demonstrator, again to test in the field in a switch or crossing.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Transport

 
Description In2Track
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Organisation Network Rail Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 07/2018
 
Description iCASE
Amount £21,000 (GBP)
Organisation Network Rail Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2021
 
Description Alchemy 
Organisation LB Foster
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We will provide Network Rail with a means to enhance the life of high value track components. We will provide LBFoster information on how to increase the life of the components they supply. We will provide details of the performance of the Tata materials being clad onto rail. We will provide SKF with details of the clad layer performance. We will provide Laser Cladding Technology with evidence that the cladding works for track components and models they can use to optimise the cladding process.
Collaborator Contribution Network Rail will give advice on track components and information on loading cycles and track costing. LBFoster will advise on components and possibly arrange track access. Tata will provide rail material and advice on rail and cladding metallurgy. SKF will advise on wider applications of laser cladding.
Impact No outputs or outcomes yet.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Alchemy 
Organisation Laser Cladding Technology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We will provide Network Rail with a means to enhance the life of high value track components. We will provide LBFoster information on how to increase the life of the components they supply. We will provide details of the performance of the Tata materials being clad onto rail. We will provide SKF with details of the clad layer performance. We will provide Laser Cladding Technology with evidence that the cladding works for track components and models they can use to optimise the cladding process.
Collaborator Contribution Network Rail will give advice on track components and information on loading cycles and track costing. LBFoster will advise on components and possibly arrange track access. Tata will provide rail material and advice on rail and cladding metallurgy. SKF will advise on wider applications of laser cladding.
Impact No outputs or outcomes yet.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Alchemy 
Organisation Network Rail Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We will provide Network Rail with a means to enhance the life of high value track components. We will provide LBFoster information on how to increase the life of the components they supply. We will provide details of the performance of the Tata materials being clad onto rail. We will provide SKF with details of the clad layer performance. We will provide Laser Cladding Technology with evidence that the cladding works for track components and models they can use to optimise the cladding process.
Collaborator Contribution Network Rail will give advice on track components and information on loading cycles and track costing. LBFoster will advise on components and possibly arrange track access. Tata will provide rail material and advice on rail and cladding metallurgy. SKF will advise on wider applications of laser cladding.
Impact No outputs or outcomes yet.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Alchemy 
Organisation SKF
Department S.K.F. Engineering & Research Services B.V
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We will provide Network Rail with a means to enhance the life of high value track components. We will provide LBFoster information on how to increase the life of the components they supply. We will provide details of the performance of the Tata materials being clad onto rail. We will provide SKF with details of the clad layer performance. We will provide Laser Cladding Technology with evidence that the cladding works for track components and models they can use to optimise the cladding process.
Collaborator Contribution Network Rail will give advice on track components and information on loading cycles and track costing. LBFoster will advise on components and possibly arrange track access. Tata will provide rail material and advice on rail and cladding metallurgy. SKF will advise on wider applications of laser cladding.
Impact No outputs or outcomes yet.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Alchemy 
Organisation TATA Steel
Department Tata Limited UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We will provide Network Rail with a means to enhance the life of high value track components. We will provide LBFoster information on how to increase the life of the components they supply. We will provide details of the performance of the Tata materials being clad onto rail. We will provide SKF with details of the clad layer performance. We will provide Laser Cladding Technology with evidence that the cladding works for track components and models they can use to optimise the cladding process.
Collaborator Contribution Network Rail will give advice on track components and information on loading cycles and track costing. LBFoster will advise on components and possibly arrange track access. Tata will provide rail material and advice on rail and cladding metallurgy. SKF will advise on wider applications of laser cladding.
Impact No outputs or outcomes yet.
Start Year 2015