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A System for Generating Electricity Using the Passage of Train Wheels for Improving Railroad Track Safety

[+] Author Affiliations
Abolfazl Pourghodrat, Carl A. Nelson

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE

Paper No. DETC2012-70449, pp. 1025-1031; 7 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 36th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4503-5
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


The dangerous nature and history of railroad grade crossings (especially unprotected crossings in remote areas lacking costly electrical infrastructure) motivates engineering efforts to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries. Several approaches and devices have been investigated and developed to harvest energy, mostly from vertical deflection of railroad track to power automated warning systems and track health monitoring sensors. While most of this previous work relied on harvesting energy from the vertical deflection of the railroad track, this paper proposes a mechanism for generating electricity from the passage of each train wheel. A cam-follower mechanism was designed initially to meet the requirements of low noise, shock and wear, and was subsequently used and improved to design a system capable of generating electricity efficiently from the motion of trains traveling in either direction. The development of the device as well as analysis of its predicted power production capability is presented in this paper.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Topics: Safety , Railroads , Trains , Wheels



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