Southwest Jiaotong UniversityAll-in-one intelligent system enhances the safe operation of high-speed railway

All-in-one intelligent system enhances the safe operation of high-speed railway

Train monitoring methods have been increasingly enriched along with the development of high-speed railway system. Combining the Internet of Things with train monitoring becomes a tendency. However, an external power source, such as a supercapacitor or Li-ion battery, is needed for sensors and other electronics for communications. As time goes by, this kind of traditional power supply mode becomes more and more unpractical and unfavorable, mainly for the limited battery lifetime, large scope, messy arrangement of wires and potential environmental hazards. In this regard, an ideal solution is to use an energy harvester instead of battery, realizing an all-in-one monitoring system.

Weiqing Yang, full professor of Materials Sciences and Engineering at Southwest Jiaotong University, who initiated the project, said he hoped to construct an all-in-one intelligent system to enhance the safe operation of high-speed railway. First, the energy harvesting unit could convert environmental energy such as wind, vibration, sunlight, into electrical energy. And then the converted energy can be efficiently stored by energy storage units, such as supercapacitors or batteries. Finally, the energy could be continuously supplied to the applications, such as sensing or communication.

Dr. Long Jin, one member of professor Yang’s group, said that “When the train is running, the train has an abundance of vibration energy, such as from the wheel pairs, bogies”, “Generally, there are several methods for vibration energy converting, including electromagnetic, piezoelectric, triboelectric, and electrostatic effects.” he added.

Schematic illustration of the developed All-in-one intelligent system applied in high-speed railway

The developed all-in-one intelligent system applied in the bogies by using the energy converted from the train vibration in train-running process. As a convenience, the signal submitted from the smart sensor can be receipted indoor, for example in the operation room. In this way, all operating conditions of the train can be monitored in real time, further enhancing the safety of train operation.

Professor Yang said, “In the long term, this design can push forward a revolutionary step toward train monitoring system without an external power source or messy arrangement of wires.”

Application prospects of the proposed all-in-one intelligent system in rail transportation, national defense industry, intelligent manufacturing, aerospace and other fields

In addition, the all-in-one intelligent system developed is an urgent requirement to break through the traditional complex wiring monitoring and the drawbacks of large size and long-distance power supply monitoring, and has important strategic significance and foresight in realizing in-situ real-time monitoring of physical parameters of key components operating in space-constrained special environments such as special strategic equipment, aero engines and train wheels.

Prof. Weiqing Yang’s group at School of Materials Science and Engineering of Southwest Jiaotong University is dedicated to advancing the nanoenergy materials and functional devices (NED) in the transportation field. Yang’s group is engaged in all-in-one nanoenergy system, including energy harvesting, energy storage and sensing, and developing high-performance functional materials and devices. The group was awarded more than 10 million RMB ($147,994) in funding to further research on all-in-one intelligent system technology. The funds, awarded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Sichuan Province Key Areas R&D Program, will support the group's work over the next three years.

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