Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


RAAI Report Summary

Project ID: 674231

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RAAI (Whole Life Rail Axle Assessment and Improvement Using Ultrasonic Phased array and Corrosion Inspection Systems)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The overall objective of the RAAI project is to develop novel NDT solutions for the corrosion assessment and crack detection as well as reliability software for high cycle variable amplitude corrosion fatigue of rail axles. Currently, the most sensitive non-destructive testing methods for inspection of rail axles are surface inspection methods designed for crack detection (such as MPI, eddy current and ACFM) and these do not typically attempt to measure corrosion. Besides current trend is that axles are withdrawn from service long before their design lives because of suspected corrosion developed on the axle surface. The decision to withdraw from service is taken without the full knowledge of the way in which the failure will result from corrosion as this requires a crack to initiate and the mechanism for this is unknown.

RAAI aims to develop two novel methods:

1. Corrosion assessment,

2. Phased array ultrasonic.

The first method assesses the effect of corrosion on high-cycle fatigued component such as the axle and evaluates its remnant life thereby improving the sentencing of corroded axles. The second method is specifically for hollow axles of high speed trains and aims to improve the speed of the inspection (by 75%) and improve crack detection reliability (almost 100% with a crack of 2-3 mm depth) without dismantling the wheel-set and with minimum time of inspection. The primary impact of the project is to improve the competitiveness of the SMEs in the project by enabling them to provide NDT solutions to reducing the cost of and improving the safety margins of rolling stock operation.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

First we build a comprehensive review on current knowledge and results to develop the detailed specifications of the corrosion assessment system, the ultrasonic phased array system and the inspection interval software. Based on the results of the review a functional design of the prototype RAAI system was generated.

A complete overview and a detailed description of the available test axles and the axles which have to be procured for the project was produced. The preparation of new test axles by including cracks from fatigue tests was planned and the raw axles for these tests were provided.

A review of the corrosion inspection system from the WOLAXIM project was made. Based on the results of the review, the specifications for the corrosion inspection system in the RAAI prototype were defined. Possible changes of the corrosion inspection system from the WOLAXIM project for further optimisation of the construction, to achieve a higher scan speed along and around the axis, were investigated.

Evaluation of corrosion fatigue cracking on 3 rejected passenger vehicle axles was conducted, in the wheelseat transitional radii of the axles, which is the most common position of cracking. The evaluation was completed using both enhanced MPI testing and an improved resolution portable microscope. The results were complementary unless the corrosion was very heavy and in these instances some of the defects were masked and obscured by the surface oxides in and around the cracks. However, where the defects were in their initial stages the microscope gave good images that were not obvious using MPI on medium corroded areas. Confirmation of the major cracks was carried out using an Eddy Current meter.

A review of the phased array system from the WOLAXIM project was made. Based on the results of the review, the specifications for the phased array system in the RAAI prototype were defined. Possible changes of the phased array probe from the WOLAXIM project for further optimisation of the construction, to achieve a higher sensitivity, were investigated.

The project website was installed under

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The European rail network is targeting a considerable expansion of passenger and freight traffic by 2020; this is supported by a significant mandate given to the European rail sector in 2011 by the European Commission to shape the future of transport in Europe. The Transport White Paper presented by Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas outlined a step change for passenger and freight transport in Europe to be operated largely by rail by 2050. In order to achieve this, increased reliability and availability of rolling stock is necessary whilst maintaining the same or a better level of safety.

In RAAI project we will be developing a group of novel inspection devices and a software module for the inspection of rail axles. This project is very much related to the Horizon 2020 dedicated SME Instrument topic “IT-1-2014: Small business innovation research for transport” to have the capacity to deliver the best products and services, in a time and cost efficient manner, in order to preserve its leadership and create new jobs, as well as to tackle the environmental and mobility defies. The SMEs in the consortium are all high technology SMEs who jointly form a supply chain with the following capabilities:

+ To engineer RAAI system so that it is (i) improved and reliable and (ii) economically viable for the rail operators;

+ To manufacture and market the system;

+ To provide on-site services with the system.

The RAAI system will have twofold impacts on the European rail industries. Firstly, it will make inspection and assessment reliable and cost-effective and secondly it will improve the operation of the European rail industries. We will endeavour to enhance the two novel methods (phased array system for detecting cracks in hollow axles and corrosion inspection system for measuring corrosion assessment in rail axles) developed in the WOLAXIM project, to reduce the inspection cost and time, to increase the reliability of corrosion assessment thereby decreasing the sentencing of the axles, etc.

The results of the RAAI project will be used in the rail industry which will offer higher probability of detection (POD) of corrosion and cracks, improved and sustainable inspection of rail axles and savings of inspection cost through 75% reduction of inspection time and at least 20% of savings of rail axles and thus more economical for rail operators. Developing a complete system of RAAI ready for commercialisation after the end of the project will increasing profit and business growth for the consortium’s SMEs from sales of the novel corrosion assessment system, phased array ultrasonic technology as well as software development.

With regard to external communication, in order to ensure a maximum outreach and impact of the RAAI project, we will follow a multi-channel dissemination strategy in order to gain maximum visibility including academia, the industry, end-user organisations, policy makers, and the general public. The dissemination strategy will focus on:

+ Distributing relevant results among scientific communities;

+ Propagating research results in the form of new technologies, prototypes, and interactive concepts to the respective industry branches and public and corporate audiences;

+ Organising seminars and workshops to disseminate knowledge on the methodology and technology used and the results obtained in the project to professional and non-professional social inclusion actors;

+ Informing the general public of the project results through a dynamic website with high quality content explaining the idea of the system and the guidelines for the evaluation of technology.

Related information

Record Number: 190406 / Last updated on: 2016-11-15
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