Carry distance of top-of-rail friction modifiers

Rail issues such as corrugation, rolling contact fatigue, noise and wear have been increasing with the increase in railway traffic. The application of top-of-rail friction modifiers (TOR-FMs) is claimed by their manufacturers in the railway industry to be a well-established technique for resolving the above-mentioned issues. There are various methods for applying friction modifiers at the wheel–rail interface, among which stationary wayside systems are recommended by TOR-FM manufacturers when a distance of a few kilometres is to be covered. TOR-FM manufacturers also claim that by using wayside equipment, the TOR-FM can be spread over a minimum distance of 3?km, over which it maintains a coefficient of friction of µ?=?0.35?±?0.05. To determine the carry distance of TOR-FMs, some researchers use tribometers to measure the coefficients of friction. However, moisture and deposits from the environment and trains can alter the top-of-rail friction and give a misleading indication of the presence of a friction modifier. Therefore, the coefficient of friction itself is not a clear indicator of the presence of TOR-FMs. In the present study, cotton swabs dipped in a mixture of alcohol and ester were used to collect surface deposits (a third body) from both the wheel and rail at various distances from the point of application. Subsequently, the third body collected on the cotton swab was analysed using an energy dispersive X-ray analysis. The results have shown that the maximum carry distance of TOR-FMs on the top of the rail is limited to 70?m when using a TOR-FM from one manufacturer and to 450?m when using a TOR-FM from another manufacturer. The carry distance on the contact band of the wheel is limited to 100?m and 340?m. The friction modifier on the edges of the contact band was detected over a distance of up to 3?km; however, this will not minimise the damage or friction at the wheel–rail interface.


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  • Accession Number: 01685470
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 16 2018 4:23PM