Research Teams Focus on Rail Issues
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A team of scientists at the University of Warwick, U.K., are developing a noncontact railhead scanning device that can pinpoint minute cracks on a rail line at speeds of 125 miles per hour (mph). According to the article “Testing on the Rails,” in the November 1, 2008 issue of Materials World magazine, the ultrasonic detector identifies rolling contact fatigue or gage corner cracking using electromagnetic acoustic transducers (EMATs), which generate broadband ultrasonic waves that travel along the track and return to the EMAT at a rate of 3000 m/s. EMATs generate sound in the railhead without touching the rail, allowing the detector to move at a much faster rate than current devices, which usually operate at around 25 mph. Conventional approaches can also miss deep cracks if they are screened by smaller ones. The EMAT technique can determine the extent of cracks at a deeper depth than existing test methods, up to 15 mm into the railhead surface.
The goal, according to Leader...