Characterisation of airborne particles from rail traffic

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Since the investigation of wear particles in rail transport started in late-1910s, the high mass concentration of these particles has raised worries among researchers concerned with air quality. However, effective action has yet to be taken because of lack of relevant knowledge. This thesis provides applicable information for the airborne wear particles in rail transport. Some aspects of their characteristics such as diameter size, mass concentration, number concentration, and morphology of particles were investigated in field tests and laboratory tests.The effects on particle characterisations from different operational conditions in the field tests, and applying different braking materials, conducting tests in different applied loads or sliding velocities in the laboratory tests were studied. The main advantage of conducting laboratory tests was to focus on studying particles from one source. The possibility of repetition, using high sensitive instruments and conducting tests at low costs are the other advantages of laboratory studies. Paper A describes how a pin-on-disc machine was used to reproduce similar real operational conditions during mechanical braking in a train. The results were validated by comparing the field tests results with the laboratory studies. The particles morphology and size distribution were also studied.Paper B presents a summary of field tests results. The effects of curve negotiating and applying braking in different real conditions were investigated with an on-board measurement.The element composition of the particles and their potential sources were also investigated outside of the particles morphologies.Paper C presents comprehensive results from laboratory studies on airborne particles from different braking materials. The differences in the particle characteristics in similar test conditions were attributable to different material compositions and dominant wear mechanisms. A new index was introduced in this paper and is suggested to be used as a qualitative factor with regard to the airborne wear particle emission rate.Paper D is a review of the recent studies of exhaust emission and non-exhaust emission from rail vehicles. A summary of results, measurements, adverse health effects, and proposed or applied solutions are reviewed in this paper.