Development of piezoelectric transducers for a railway integrity monitoring system

  • Loveday P
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A system has been developed and installed to continuously monitor the integrity of a railway track. In this system elastic waves are transmitted, along the rails, between transmit and receive stations spaced at 2.5 km intervals along the length of the track. The development of piezoelectric transducers, which transmit and receive the elastic waves is described. The requirements and conceptual design of the transducer are described. Resul ts of measurements conducted in the laboratory and in the field are presented. The transducer achieved transmission over the required 2.5 km with a signal to noise ratio of approximately 30 dB at the receiver. Finite element modeling was used to obtain a better understanding of the transducer operation. Improved modeling of the wave propagation and energy loss mechanisms in the effectively infinite rail is required before the model can be used to predict optimal frequencies and methods of excitation. The present system was designed to detect complete breaks in the rail. A “smarter” system with communication between the transmit and receive stations, more sophisticated signal processing, and wave propagation confined to the critical regions of the rail cross-section could indicate the growth of cracks before the rail breaks thus adding substantial value to the system

Author-supplied keywords

  • integrity monitoring
  • piezoelectric ultrasonic transducers
  • railway track

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  • Philip W Loveday

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