Transit Degradation Monitoring and Failure Prediction of Carbon Strip in Pantograph

The weakest link in powering high-speed rail locomotives is the carbon strip of a pantograph collector which makes physical contact between the overhead power line and the electrical supply wires of the locomotive. This effort proposes to determine the degradation effects of the carbon strip by monitoring the locomotive’s input current line. It is hypothesized that the transient distribution of the current flow around the locomotive’s input power line provides a unique signature that can be mapped back to the transient real time degradation properties of the carbon strip of the pantograph allowing one to predict the lifetime of the strip in real time. The research team proposes monitoring the current distribution with existing and next generation electromagnetic dots (EM dot). The EM dot is a sensor that measures the electric and magnetic fields at a single macroscopically small point in space simultaneously in time. The sensor design will be examined in two pulsed power test stands. In one test stand configuration, the carbon strip will be exposed to a single high voltage, high current pulse. In the second test stand configuration, the carbon strip will be exposed to a continuous repetition of high voltage, high current pulses. The dot sensor will be located in the ground line. Features of the measured fields will be examined and related back to the carbon strip.