The University's expertise in numerical simulation of granular materials combined with industry expertise in design and construction. That is the recipe to develop the next generation of bulk wagons in a Horizon 2020 project.
– The flow of granular materials and how it interact with solid materials is something we have a long experience in researching. Along with Kiruna Wagon and SSAB, we will develop a new type of railway wagon for bulk transportation that will hopefully lead to a new wagon standard in the EU, says Pär Jonsén, associate professor in Solid Mechanics, Luleå University of Technology.
The project is part of a major investment in a competitive European industry in the EU Programme Horizon 2020 and aims to create a modern logistics system for Iberpotash, a Spanish producer of salt. The results will also be used to modernize most types of bulk transport in Europe.
– Within the EU there are major problems with bulk shipments by rail. The wagons are small, loading and unloading takes a long time and material get stucked in the wagon. The dust that this creates is a big problem for the working environment and the environment as a whole. The wagons also have problems with corrosion and abrasion. Kiruna Wagon, the world leader in lightweight ore wagons, will develop a basic design that we and SSAB will help optimize, says Pär Jonsén.
In a press release, Fredrik Kangas, CEO of Kiruna Wagon, states:
– We believe that this investment is the way to go to help the bulk industries in EU to reach the same high productivity, durability and safety that characterize our Swedish mining companies.
Effective with simulations
Pär Jonsén, together with colleagues at the research subject Solid Mechanics, will investigate how different materials behave and make numerical simulations, which makes the product development process far more efficient than producing several prototype wagons.
– Different granular material flows different, such as flour which easily stick while small gravel flows easier. We want to develop a wagon design that makes loading and unloading as quickly and smooth as possible and that is suitable for different types of bulk materials. We will do lab tests and simulations of the material on a smaller scale, and then scale it up to a full size wagon, says Pär Jonsén.
The project is called HERMES, and the full description is Development of smart and flexible wagons and facilities for improved transportation of multi-granular materials. Nine European companies and organizations are involved and the project is scheduled for completion in three years.
* Granular materials are for example a large amount of salt, sand or pebble. When the material is collected in a larger amount, its bulk properties dominate over properties associated with each individual particle.