Bi-Directional Wind Shroud for the AutoPilot™ Top-of-Rail Application System

Union Pacific Corporation is America’s leading transportation company specializing in the railroad industry. They are one of the world leaders in consumption of diesel fuel. Looking for ways to improve operational efficiencies, Union Pacific improves fuel efficiency by applying a friction modifying solution, KELTRACK, to the tracks in front of the train cars. A wind shroud must be developed and attached to the friction modifying system in order to ensure the KELTRACK is applied to the tracks in high cross wind environments. LB Foster developed the AutoPilot™ Top-of-Rail Application System that Union Pacific incorporates on their trains to dispense KELTRACK. The current wind shroud is a uni-directional horseshoe design. The purpose of this project was to develop a bi-directional wind shroud that allows the KELTRACK to be applied regardless of direction of travel.

We took three systematic steps to ensure we produced the best possible shroud design. First, we began by analyzing the wind currents inside the two current designs. We created Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) models, and tested each shroud design in a wind tunnel. The second step was determining shroud features that would allow us to achieve minimal dead space and minimal eddies returning to the nozzle. The third step was to combine those features we felt were effective. From those features, we created three designs that we felt confident would achieve this goal. Additionally, four shrouds of each design were attached to AutoPilot™ in service on trains to determine their performance in their intended environment.

Four prototypes of each shroud were sent to LB Foster who oversaw the installation of these shrouds in North Platte, Nebraska. The shrouds were installed between March 5-9, 2015. Since that time, one prototype design has failed. However, the other two designs have continued to operate just fine. Union Pacific and LB Foster have been very satisfied with the other designs so far. The other two designs appear to be viable options to replace the current wind shroud design.

School Year (term): 
Union Pacific and LB Foster
Team Name: 
Jeffrey Niven
Team Members: 
Chad Ellsworth, Jonathan Judd, Richard Low, David Miller, Nathan Stark

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