Development of collision dynamics models to estimate the results of full-scale rail vehicle impact tests : Tufts University Master's Thesis
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Development of collision dynamics models to estimate the results of full-scale rail vehicle impact tests : Tufts University Master's Thesis

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      Tufts University Master's Thesis
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      In an effort to study occupant survivability in train collisions, analyses and tests were conducted to understand and improve the crashworthiness of rail vehicles. A collision dynamics model was developed in order to estimate the rigid body motion of rail cars in a collision, which could be used to estimate the likelihood and severity of injuries experienced by occupants in collisions. The collision dynamics model, with input from finite element models, was used to generate accurate results in much less time than the finite element model.

      The objective of this thesis was to develop a model of a conventional passenger rail car to analyze the crush response and rigid body motion experienced by the car during a collision. The model was used as an analysis tool in coordination with full-scale testing of rail cars to assist in the development of the test requirements, and to estimate the results of the impact tests. The model developed and validated as part of this thesis was based on an existing rail car design. The model will be used in planned follow-on work (out of the scope of this thesis), to evaluate the collision performance of rail cars that will be modified to incorporate crashworthiness features.

      The model consists of a series of lumped masses connected by non-linear springs. The force-deflection characteristics for the springs were estimated from a detailed finite element model of a rail car similar to the cars that were tested. Estimates for some of the spring characteristics were initially based on component or sub-assembly impact testing. These spring characteristics were incorporated into the model and modified as necessary to reach better agreement with full-scale test results.

      The model was exercised to evaluate the crush response and rigid body motion of the vehicles under full-scale, single-car and two-car impact test conditions. The results developed with the single-car and two-car collision dynamics models were compared with the data from the respective tests. Both models were shown to represent the test data reasonably well in terms of longitudinal acceleration-time history, force/crush behavior and relative impact velocity. The model was described in detail. The methods of filtering and interpreting the test data were also included. A parametric study was conducted to evaluate the influence of different variables on the results.

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