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Researchers Develop New Accelerometers to Prevent Railway Accidents

New sensors have been built by researchers for figuring out vibration and acceleration on trains. The innovative know-how can be integrated with artificial intelligence to stop catastrophic train derailments and railway crashes.

The scientists have called their novel accelerometers in Optics Express—The Optical Society journal. The devices can detect cycles that are more than twice that of standard fiber-optic accelerometers, and in consequence, they’re suitable for observing the communications between the wheel and rail. The sensors are durable and don’t contain any moving components. They work suitably in the high-voltage and noisy environments found in railway functions.

The scientists have been working on condition-monitoring programs for over 15 years. These programs make the most of an all-optical sensing network to track main railway parts consistently. As well as, they can help in substituting pricey and inefficient planned railway maintenance systems with predictive maintenance based on real situations.

Generally, the fiber-optic accelerometers employed in situation-monitoring systems are asserted on fiber Bragg gratings, or FBGs, and can’t be utilized for detecting more than 500 Hz vibrations. While that is sufficient for almost all of the railway functions, it can’t be used for scaling the frictions between the wheel and rail that are a crucial source of track wear.

So as to resolve this problem, the researchers developed a novel fiber-optic accelerometer that employs a unique optical fiber called a polarization-sustaining photonic crystal fiber rolled into the form of a disc measuring just 15 mm in diameter.

This twisted fiber is fixed between a cylindrical mass block and a stainless-steel substrate. When there is a vibration, the mass block pushes on the coiled fiber at a frequency corresponding with that of the vibration. Due to this exterior force, the wavelength of light in the fiber turns in a quantifiable manner.


Jeanne Lussier

Jeanne is a contributing author and editor for the sensors and controls column. Being an electrical engineer her knowledge in this area is vast, and that benefits her a lot. And her writing is without any doubt very interesting and full of information. She writes about the progression of the sensor and controls sectors which is evolving to a mass industry currently.

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