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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Kansas State University to test how concrete ties hold up in cold weather


Kansas State University (KSU) will lead a three-year study to examine the freeze-thaw durability of concrete ties, particularly for high-speed rail systems.

Working with commercial partners CN and CXT Concrete Ties Inc., KSU's Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Kyle Riding will study the materials and fabrication process, and develop quality control tests that ensure safe freeze-thaw durability for concrete ties.

Typically, water collects in the concrete and freezes in the pores. As the liquid freezes, it can create stress in the tie, which can cause the tie to crack. High-speed rail systems would be more sensitive to the problems because of higher-speeds trains operating on the tracks, according to KSU.

To study the freeze-thaw conditions, researchers will add surfactants to the concrete as it's being mixed in the laboratory. The compounds produce millions of microscopic bubbles in the concrete that act as pressure-release valves to help protect the concrete from damage.

The Federal Railroad Administration awarded KSU more than $1.2 million to conduct the study.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/2/2012