Neutron residual stress measurements in rails
Rails were among the first objects of study by neutron diffraction strain measurement and the first experiments were done as early as the late 1980s [1, 2]. This interest is easy to explain: the problem of rail fracturing is critical from the public safety point of view and the penetrating ability of neutrons suggested the possibility of breakthrough experiments and fast progress in this field. It was well-established that residual stresses, both near-surface and interior, played a signifi cant role in the development of defects which led to rail failure. This suggested three distinct approaches of neutron diffraction strain measurement that could contribute to various problems of the rail industry. The first method was to map the complete triaxial stress distribution non-destructively in the interior of an intact rail, ideally before and after significant service. Another approach was to use slices, for example to characterize how different processing methods produce favourable or detrimental stress distributions in rails. A third technique was to make non-destructive measurements, but in critical and not very deep portions of rails, for example, to examine defects and their relation to rail failure in the top running surface of rails, e.g. "white layer" formation.
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