Technical Reports

Geothermal Switch Heater Installation, Testing and Monitoring – Phases 1 & 2

  • 27
  • Jul
  • 2016
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration
OFFICE: RPD
SUBOFFICE: RPD-31
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/ORD/FRA-16/30
KEYWORDS: Geothermal heat, switch plate
ABSTRACT: Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), Norfolk Southern (NS), and John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe) completed Phases 1 and 2 of a project on a working prototype geothermal switch heating system designed to test the concept and efficiency of using low-temperature geothermal energy (55°F) to heat a railroad switch plate. Research results indicate that geothermal switch heating technology is a viable alternative to traditional active heating systems for keeping track switches free of ice and snow in winter. Future work would be aimed at improving heat source, changing the tubing or switchplate design, using a geothermal pit instead of a well, and streamlining the assembly and installation process.

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