High-Resolution Health Monitoring of Track and Rail Systems with Fiber Optic Sensors and High-Frequency Multiplexed Readouts



Published Nov 17, 2020
Kyle Arakaki Ajay Raghavan Andreas Schuh


Health monitoring of railway systems is critical for detecting incipient faults or degradation. In order to reliably do so, an effective monitoring system must be deployed to provide railroad operators with the highest level of operational awareness and safety. In this study, we explore the use of Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) and a highresolution, low-cost optical readout developed at PARC to interrogate the acoustic emissions generated by a train-rail system. The proposed sensing configuration can allow for a scalable, low-cost, field-deployable solution that could enable near real-time monitoring of tracks and wheels. A proof-of-concept was demonstrated with a G-scale train-rail system with FBGs embedded within the ballast layer. Using PARC’s wavelength shift detector, the acoustic emission signal was resolved in both the time and frequency domain. The findings of this work show promise that this could be a viable solution to deploy an optically-based health monitoring system for railroads.

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