Controlling Frost Heaving in Ballast Railway Tracks Using Low Enthalpy Geothermal Energy

Frost action related problems, such as frost heave and thaw settlement, on railway tracks not only result in considerable economic loss throughout the operation years, but affect the running speed and safety operations of trains in seasonally frozen regions. The main purpose of this paper is to present an innovative method to utilize geothermal energy in order to create a passive system to prevent ice formation on the railway tracks throughout a year. In order to make the passive system, geothermal piles with high thermal conductive materials are installed into the ground to transfer geothermal heat from soil deep in the ground to the surface soil. The soil temperature in the ground is relatively high compare to the ambient temperature (freezing temperature). Therefore geothermal passive piles transfer heat from bottom of the pile to the surface due to the temperature gradient between the top and bottom parts of the piles. In order to study the feasibility of harvesting geothermal energy to reduce the frost heaving, a 3D numerical model is developed using the Finite Element Method. The results show that the temperature on the ballast surface can be maintained above freezing during the winter time, using the proposed system. Therefore, this system is introduced to be an effective method to prevent frost heaving. A sensitivity analysis is also performed to investigate the effects of different design parameters such as piles diameter, length, horizontal spacing and materials on the efficiency of the method for the specific configuration considered in this study.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee AR060 Standing Committee on Railway Maintenance.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

  • Authors:
    • Boushehri, Reza
    • Hasanpour Estahbanati, Seddigheh
    • Ghasemi-Fare, Omid
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 16p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01698377
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-03687
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 1 2019 3:51PM