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Side Impact Testing and Analyses of Unpressurized Tank Cars

[+] Author Affiliations
Steven W. Kirkpatrick, Robert A. MacNeill

Applied Research Associates, Inc., Los Altos, CA

Francisco Gonzalez, III

Federal Railroad Administration, Washington, DC

Przemyslaw Rakoczy

Transportation Technology Center, Inc., Pueblo, CO

Paper No. JRC2015-5813, pp. V001T06A022; 15 pages
  • 2015 Joint Rail Conference
  • 2015 Joint Rail Conference
  • San Jose, California, USA, March 23–26, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Rail Transportation Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5645-1
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


There has been significant research in recent years to analyze and improve the impact behavior and puncture resistance of railroad tank cars. Ultimately, the results of this work will be used by the Government regulatory agencies in the United States and Canada to establish performance-based testing requirements and to develop methods to evaluate the crashworthiness and structural integrity of different tank car designs.

This paper describes results of recent side impact testing and corresponding analyses using detailed finite element analyses (FEA). The test and analyses were performed to evaluate the side impact puncture performance of DOT-111 tank cars. The tank car was filled with water to approximately 97 percent of the volume. The tank was then sealed but not pressurized. The tank car was impacted at the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. by a 297,125-pound ram car with 12-by 12-inch ram head fitted to the ram car impacted the tank center.

The analyses were on overall good agreement with the measured impact response. The lading was found to play a more significant role in the impact response than in previous testing and analyses of pressure tank cars. This is not surprising considering the reduced structural stiffness of the tanks compared to thicker pressure tank cars and the reduced effective stiffness from the initially unpressurized tank at impact. The smaller outage volume also contributes to a dramatic increase in the tank pressure as the dent formation reduces the tank volume and compresses the contents of the tank.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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