Revolutionising catenary design: the use of new materials

H.W.M. Smulders, P.A.A.F. Wouters, J.A. Minkman, J.B.M. Waes, van

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Traditionally materials used for catenary support structures are steel, concrete or even wood, in combination with the use of insulators. The development of new materials such as Fibre Reinforced Plastics (FRP) makes a new revolutionary design possible. The use of FRP is expanding rapidly at the moment, being applied already in bridges, lock-doors and the design of High-Voltage towers [1]. A benefit of FRP from a mechanical point of view is that, due to the reduced Young modulus, the design is mainly determined by the stiffness of the construction, therefore the resulting strength of the structure is very high. The insulating properties of the material make it possible to omit the use of insulators. This leads to the following benefits in catenary design: - Environmental friendly as no zinc or paint is required for conservation; - FRP is easy to be recycled; - Cost reduction as no insulators are required; - Reduced height of civil structures as no space is required for insulators; - Reduced maintenance costs, since FRP does not corrode; - Reduced weight of catenary support structure simplifying foundation design; - For d.c. systems no voltage limiting devices are needed, therefore reducing stray currents and reducing impact of the railway on other structures such as pipelines (provided that the construction meets the requirements for reinforced insulation in accordance with [5]; - Number of construction parts is reduced, leading to easier and faster construction. As the mechanical properties of FRP are well known at present, the main interest concerns the electrical properties, especially in relation to ageing and pollution. Therefore, conductivity measurements have been performed on a FRP beam which has been in use in the railway environment for 20 years. Also measurements have been conducted on a reference sample in a High- Voltage laboratory. Three situations have been studied: - Original state; - Cleaned; - After salt-spray test. Based on the measurements it can be concluded that the conductivity, even after being in use for 20 years, is sufficient for the intended use. Conductivity can be attributed mainly to the surface of the material, and is probably due to the deposition of carbon and metal particles from pantograph, catenary and moisture. It can be concluded that the use of FRP in catenary support structures, without insulators is a promising new technology, with benefits for both costs as well as the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 9th World Congress on Railway Research (WCRR 2011), 22-26 May 2011, Lille, France
Place of PublicationLille
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Eventconference; 9th World Congress on Railway Research (WCRR 2011); 2011-05-22; 2011-05-26 -
Duration: 22 May 201126 May 2011


Conferenceconference; 9th World Congress on Railway Research (WCRR 2011); 2011-05-22; 2011-05-26
Other9th World Congress on Railway Research (WCRR 2011)


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