Denys is further developing the FRIEX technology for automated welding of bainitic steel rails within the framework of the European WRIST project. FRIEX is an acronym for Friction and Explosion and refers to a controlled welding process that does not involve melting of the material, thus ensuring a high quality weld. In the WRIST project we merged the FRIEX technology with orbital friction welding, creating a unique automatic welding method to realise high-performance rail joints. Currently initial testing at true scale is being carried out at Zwijnaarde Science Park.
The project will offer a step change in the joint performance and reliability, providing an extended in-service life for a range of rail materials, which are facing growing demands due to the increasing speed and growth of railway's load. Orbital friction welding reduces the width of the heat affected zone and therefore minimises the loss of mechanical properties in the weld zone. It also delivers increased reliability, a longer lifetime of the rails and welds, combined with a reduction of the maintenance cost. In addition friction welding is a more environmental friendly joining process. This process does not require fluxes or shielding gases, produces no harmful smoke, fumes or slag, which reduces the overall environmental impact of track construction and maintenance.
WRIST has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under agreement No 636164.