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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/S024840/1
Title Zero Power, Large Area Rail Track Monitoring
Status Completed
Energy Categories Energy Efficiency(Other) 10%;
Not Energy Related 80%;
Energy Efficiency(Industry) 10%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Metallurgy and Materials) 25%;
PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Computer Science and Informatics) 25%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) 25%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering) 25%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Dr M Zhu
No email address given
School of Applied Sciences
Cranfield University
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 June 2019
End Date 31 May 2023
Duration 48 months
Total Grant Value £1,383,491
Industrial Sectors Transport Systems and Vehicles
Region East of England
Programme NC : Engineering
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr M Zhu , School of Applied Sciences, Cranfield University (99.998%)
  Other Investigator Dr M Papaelias , Metallurgy and Materials, University of Birmingham (0.001%)
Professor G Min , Computer Scienc, University of Exeter (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Network Rail Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , Swiss Approval International, Switzerland (0.000%)
Project Contact , Quattro Group (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract The delivery of efficient and safe railway operations is considered of vital importance to the UK's economy and society. Currently the UK has 4,000 trains using 20,000 miles of track and 1.7 billion passenger journeys annually. 400,000 tonnes of freight each day are transported over rail and these numbers are forecast to increase. Delays, unplanned disruption or reduction in availability due to unplanned maintenance have serious repercussions on the mobility of passengers and freight. Railway track and rolling stock interact with each other, forming a complex dynamic system which leads to structural degradation of railway assets with time. It is therefore of utmost importance that events and mechanisms causing damage initiation and propagation in the railway track are detected in real time and evaluated for translating events and mechanisms into predictive and preventive maintenance plans. In 2017 the UK Government set up a strategic vision for rail, for the short- and long-term, to address the need for: 'a more reliable, efficient, modern railway in 2019-24; a step change for railway (2024-2029); a world-class railway beyond 2030'.One of the grand challenges for the industry has been inspecting the track and quantifying its damage on such a vast scale. Observations need to be autonomous and sustainable, defects detected at an early stage, and maintenance work optimised, to reduce the risk of failure and to increase availability, safety and reliability. One powerful means of inspection is to develop permanently installed, self-powered sensors, e.g. accelerometers, strain gauges and acoustic emission (AE) sensors on the tracks, which measure track deflection, vibration, and wheel-rail track interactions, and are wirelessly connected to an operation and management centre with automated data processing capability. The development of such self-powered, wide area rail track monitoring will lead to radical change in the management of railway infrastructure, and considerably enhanced efficiencies, economies and adaptability, improving the competitiveness of our whole railway system. Greater connectivity and sensor coverage along tracks which require no mains power or batteries for energy supply, eliminating the costs for cabling and battery replacement, and minimum gateway installations, are critical for the success of industry adoptions.The principal novelty of this research is to develop cross-cutting, bespoke, deployable technologies and an associated demonstrator of a zero power, large geographical area rail track monitoring system. Current technological capabilities do not permit such scaling-up for high connectivity and wide area coverage, e.g. the entire UK rail network. This project will fill this technological gap by developing an integrated whole-system approach from energy harvesting (EH), power management, low power wide area networks (LPWAN), remote condition monitoring to data explanation. In the future, it will enable NetworkRail to implement efficient predictive and preventive maintenance planning, thereby improving the reliability and availability of the railway, which in turn promises to promote UK economic growth through increased mobility. The project's research outputs are expected to transform rail track monitoring capability in the 21st century, in the UK and internationally. This research will build upon the University of Exeter's track record of EH powered wireless sensor systems, and high performance computing and networking, and the University of Birmingham's expertise in rail track condition monitoring. The research will be supported by Network Rail and other industrial partners to ensure its impact readiness. The project partners are: three Divisions from Network Rail of Track Renewals (Birmingham) and Infrastructure Projects and Telecom (Milton Keynes), Quattro (London) and Swiss Approval International Group of Companies (Lanarkshire)
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 21/08/19