How do we compensate for thermal expansion /contraction in the construction of railway tracks?...

Question:

How do we compensate for thermal expansion /contraction in the construction of railway tracks? How do we compensate for thermal expansion /contraction in the construction of steel bridges? How do we compensate for thermal expansion /contraction in the construction of metal pipes for carrying steam?

Thermal expansion and contraction:

Thermal expansion is defined as the expansion in the shape of a metal due to high temperature. It leads to buckling failure.

Due to thermal contraction, there is an overall decrease in the shape of the metal. It occurs at a lower temperature.

Answer and Explanation:

Railway tracks are usually made of steel. At lower temperatures, thermal contraction occurs in the railway tracks. Due to this tensile stress arises and chances of fracture in the tracks increases. And at higher temperature tracks expands due to action of compressive stress and hence leads to buckling failure.

The continuous welded rail is altered with mechanical and thermal stresses, after measuring stress-free temperature before laying a new track to compensate such type of thermal expansions and contraction.


To compensate for the thermal expansion and contraction in the construction of steel bridges, expansion joints are used. Expansion joints help to avoid the distortion in the shape of the bridges by filling the gap between the bridges to adapt the temperature change.


The pipes used for carrying steam works at very high temperatures, and there are chances of expansion within the pipes. To compensate for this expansion, expansion loops are used. These are used for accommodating the thermal movements by installing the piping sections that run on perpendicular to the metal piping.


Learn more about this topic:

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Thermal Expansion: Definition, Equation & Examples

from General Studies Science: Help & Review

Chapter 16 / Lesson 3
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