Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Mathias, James


The railroad industry is pivotal in the United States to ensure that the supply chain does not shut down for the American people. Non-Destruction Evaluation (NDE) approaches are preferred and performed on the railways to ensure the safety of the population that is exposed to the railway industry. When damage occurs on the rail base, there is an increased risk derailment of the train cars. Due to the nature of the railroad industry, there are challenges with developing a quick and reliable inspection method, along with the improvement of current NDE methods. The load, speed, and cycles of trains have increased the load that track sections endure over time. Some railways that were originally built in the early 20th century are still utilized today, designed for trains that are not nearly as heavy or fast as used today. Defects and damage on the railways lead to the need of development of an NDE approach utilizing Line Scan Thermography approaches. One of the most common defects that are formed are on the rail base is known as “base nicks” and “half-moon cracks”, these types of defects can occur over time. This research aims to study the feasibility of applying this NDE technique to detect defects that can occur on a rail base, both internal and external. For this research, a heat source up to 6000 W and tested velocities up to 447.1 mm/s (1.0 mph) are used to study the effects of line scanning thermography on various samples. In total, 10 samples are employed to test for feasibility: each one having a unique set of defects. Some defects fabricated on these samples are internal, such as bottom drilled holes (BDH) and side drilled holes (SDH); some of these samples are fabricated from actual rail samples. From tests conducted for internal defects, it can be concluded that defects with diameters of 6.35 mm (0.25”) can be detected at a remaining thickness from the observation surface of 6.35 mm. Along with internal defects, there are also external defects employed on the samples; these defects include simulated base nicks, fractures, and half-moon cracks. For surface defects tests from this research, it is found that the anomalies can be detected visually. The results from the experimental studies provide insight and limitations of LST for the possibility of a future commercial application.




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