Prototyping and Testing of Electrically Conductive Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) Railroad Suspension Pad

This research will take formulations of carbon nanofibers in thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU), which have shown promising levels of electric conductivity, for use in a conductive steering pad, and prepare them for deployment in a commercially viable product. Plain elastomers are insulators and prevent transmission of current from rail to frame to signal door or gate opening devices. In addition, the thermal insulating properties of these materials reduce the rate of heat flow from bearings through the bearing adapter and into the side-frame, where it can be dissipated. Previous studies performed by the University Transportation Center for Railway Safety (UTCRS) revealed that traditional conductive additives, such as carbon black, must be applied at high volume fraction in order to generate sufficient conductivity, which in turn results in substantial increases in pad stiffness and degradation of pad durability. Vapor Grown Carbon Nanofibers (VGCNF) are extremely efficient conductive additives that can produce the desired conductivity at much lower concentrations and with less impact on mechanical performance than traditional additives. Prior efforts have identified a TPU carbon nanofiber combination and fiber loading that produces excellent conductivity, and results in an electrically conductive part when molded under commercially useful molding temperatures. The identified system first needs to be scaled from laboratory quantity testing to injection molding quantities, and then prototyped. Moreover, the microstructural contributions to conductivity as well as the allowable processing range need to be fully described in order to support process development and quality control processes in commercialization.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Contract to a Performing Organization has not yet been awarded.

Language

  • English

Project

  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $84119
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

    1201 W. University Dr
    Edinburg, Texas  United States  78539

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

    1201 W. University Dr
    Edinburg, Texas  United States  78539
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

    1201 W. University Dr
    Edinburg, Texas  United States  78539
  • Principal Investigators:

    Jones, Robert

  • Start Date: 20170201
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180831
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01634815
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: University Transportation Center for Railway Safety
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: May 16 2017 12:08PM