Study of Tribological Properties of Train Brake Block Produced from Clay Blended with Steel Slag
Rail transportation is one of the most important and economical transportation systems. Thus, this paper
investigates the tribological properties of composites produced from clay blended with steel slag for the train
brake block application. The problem with conventional brake blocks currently in use by the Nigerian Railway
Corporation (NRC) is that the friction between the brake blocks and the train wheel leads to wear of the brake
surface. This wear puts the safety of the passengers and freight being transported in jeopardy. Wearing of the
brake surface renders the brake block unsafe for use. Furthermore, the brake blocks currently in use are imported,
this frequent importation increases the cost incurred in maintaining and operating trains. Also, the importation of
the brake blocks hinders the development of our local industries. In this study, brake block samples were produced
using clay and steel slag. Clay served as the matrix, while induction furnace steel slag served as the reinforcement.
Phenolic resin was used as the binder and quartz was added to improve friction properties. The Vickers micro
hardness (HV), coefficient of sliding friction and wear rate of the produced brake block composite was evaluated. It
was observed that the sample with composition: clay- 39%, steel slag-27%, phenolic resin-20% and quartz- 14%
gave improved properties of: wear rate – 6g/min, hardness- 6.65HV and coefficient of friction-0.5774. From the
results obtained, this study has established that clay and steel slag can be used to produce brake block composites
with the required service properties which can serve as a viable alternative to imported brake blocks.
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