Improved tank car safety research
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Improved tank car safety research

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    • Alternative Title:
      Proceedings of the 2007 ASME Rail Transportation Division Fall Technical Conference
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    • Abstract:
      Three recent accidents involving the release of hazardous material have focused attention on the structural integrity of railroad tank cars: (1) Minot, ND, on January 18, 2002; (2) Macdona, TX, on June 28, 2004; and (3) Graniteville, SC, on January 6, 2005. Each of these accidents resulted in fatalities. Research is being conducted to develop strategies for improving railroad tank cars so they can maintain tank integrity in severe accidents. A collaborative effort called the Next Generation Rail Tank Car (NGRTC) Project intends to use these research results to help develop improved tank car designs. Dow Chemical Company, Union Pacific Railroad, and Union Tank Car Company are the industry sponsors of the NGRTC Project. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Transport Canada participate in the NGRTC project through Memoranda of Cooperation. FRA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration intend to use these research results to support rulemaking. The approach taken in performing this research is to define the collision conditions of concern, to evaluate the behavior of current design equipment in these scenarios, and to develop alternative strategies for increasing the maximum impact speed for which tank integrity is maintained. The accident scenarios have been developed from a review of accidents and are intended to bound the range of main-line accidents that can lead to a release of hazardous material from a tank car. The accident scenarios and collision modes have been used to define car-to-car impact scenarios. These car-to-car impact scenarios define the conditions under which the commodity must be contained. The impact scenarios are being used to evaluate the integrity of current design and improved design tank cars. Full-scale impact tests are also being conducted, to help validate modeling of the baseline equipment. The models have been refined based on the test results. The models are now being applied to develop the improved equipment designs. This paper describes the overall research framework and provides an overview of the research done to date, as well as the planned efforts.
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