Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Dimitris C. Rizos


Continuous welded rail (CWR) is susceptible to the development of internal forces in the rail due to thermal effects that can lead to track buckling. Railroads typically deal with the internal stresses in the rail through the inspection of the rail neutral temperature (RNT) which is the temperature at which the internal force is zero. The existing methods in the industry to measure RNT are contacting, destructive, disruptive to railroad operations, and ineffective. The proposed concept is a promising non-contacting, non-disruptive and reference-free technique to measure RNT and the stress state in the rail. The method is based on the deformation of the CWR, and has been developed, validated, and verified in the laboratories of the University of South Carolina as well as in the field. This work discusses the feasibility of 3D Laser Profilers in the proposed concept for RNT measurements, as it can make the current testing procedure more efficient. The discussion introduces the 3D laser profiler used in this work, its implementation in the method, the validation in laboratory testing, field implementation, and discussion on the results. This study finds that it is feasible to use 3D laser profilers from RNT measurements. In addition, the implementation has been validated in laboratory testing, while field testing revealed issues to be addressed in the next generation prototype. Lastly, the passage of trains during field testing affects RNT measurements regardless of the data acquisition system.


© 2023, Caio Neto Penna