Monitoring of rail-wheel interaction using Acoustic Emission (AE)

N A Thakkar, J. A. Steel, R. L. Reuben, G. Knabe, D. Dixon, R. L. Shanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This work presents the results of field measurements and laboratory studies carried out with a view to developing ways to monitor rail-wheel interaction using Acoustic Emission. It is known that impact, wear and cracking generate AE and it is therefore expected that axle loads, wheel out-of-roundness, speed and traction will influence the AE generated by an interaction. It is hoped that the extent of the effect might be sufficient to permit a measure of "interaction intensity" that could be used to quantify cumulative damage by wear and contact fatigue. In the field measurements, AE was acquired as a train with 20 moving sources of AE (20 wheels) passed a single sensor position and a laboratory rig has been devised which uses a single wheel whose condition, speed and loading can conveniently be modified. Simulated source tests have indicated that the AE wave characteristics on real rails are similar to those in the laboratory rig. A simplified analytical model, devised for AE waves propagating from a moving source(s), based on a 'vehicle' speed and wave damping coefficients, has been compared to measured results. As a wheel rolls towards a sensor and then away from the sensor the measured AE generally rises and falls in a predictable way. The effects of wheel and rail surface features appear to complicate the results by introducing sharp spikes in the signals. The numerical model for AE wave propagation from the moving sources (wheels) shows good agreement with the more slowly changing envelope of the signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
JournalAdvanced Materials Research
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Event27th European Conference on Acoustic Emission Testing - Cardiff
Duration: 20 Sept 200622 Sept 2006


  • Acoustic emission
  • Rail-wheel interaction
  • Structural integrity monitoring


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