Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE’s) are increasingly being used in rail service in load damping applications. They are superior to traditional elastomers primarily in their ease of fabrication. Like traditional elastomers they offer benefits including reduction in noise emissions and improved wear resistance in metal components that are in contact with such parts in the railcar suspension system. However, viscoelastic materials, such as the railroad bearing thermoplastic elastomer suspension element (or elastomeric pad), are known to develop self-heating (hysteresis) under cyclic loading, which can lead to undesirable consequences. Quantifying the hysteresis heating of the pad during operation is therefore essential to predict its dynamic response and structural integrity, as well as, to predict and understand the heat transfer paths from bearings into the truck assembly and other contacting components. This study investigates the internal heat generation in the suspension pad and its impact on the complete bearing assembly dynamics and thermal profile. Specifically, this paper presents an experimentally validated finite element thermal model of the elastomeric pad and its internal heat generation. The steady-state and transient-state temperature profiles produced by hysteresis heating of the elastomer pad are developed through a series of experiments and finite element analysis. The hysteresis heating is induced by the internal heat generation, which is a function of the loss modulus, strain, and frequency. Based on previous experimental studies, estimations of internally generated heat were obtained. The calculations show that the internal heat generation is impacted by temperature and frequency. At higher frequencies, the internally generated heat is significantly greater compared to lower frequencies, and at higher temperatures, the internally generated heat is significantly less compared to lower temperatures. However, during service operation, exposure of the suspension pad to higher loading frequencies above 10 Hz is less likely to occur. Therefore, internal heat generation values that have a significant impact on the suspension pad steady-state temperature are less likely to be reached. The commercial software package ALGOR 20.3TM is used to conduct the thermal finite element analysis. Different internal heating scenarios are simulated with the purpose of obtaining the bearing suspension element temperature distribution during normal and abnormal conditions. The results presented in this paper can be used in the future to acquire temperature distribution maps of complete bearing assemblies in service conditions and enable a refined model for the evolution of bearing temperature during operation.


Copyright © 2017 by ASME. Original published version available at

Publication Title

Proceedings of the 2017 Joint Rail Conference





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