Thermo-mechanical coupled finite element analysis of rolling contact fatigue and wear properties of a rail steel under different slip ratios
A multi-step FE modeling strategy has been proposed to predict the temperature evolution, thermo-mechanical response, surface fatigue life and wear behaviors in railway rail for multi wheel passages. Equivalent contact pressure and heat source were coupled and moved simultaneously on rail surface to achieve a balanced advantage of low computational cost and high accuracy. Wheel configuration at locomotive plays a significant role on rail temperature. The highest temperature of 776.05 °C was developed with a slip ratio of 9.43% after 9 wheel passages. Rolling contact fatigue life of rail material decreased quickly with slip ratio due to significant thermal softening effect. Transition from mild to severe wear was found at slip ratio of 2.38% according to the corresponding rail flash temperatures.