Shape analysis of railway ballast stones: curvature-based calculation of particle angularity

Bettina Suhr*, William Skipper, Roger Lewis, Klaus Six

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Particle shape analysis is conducted, to compare two types of railway ballast: Calcite and Kieselkalk. Focus lies on the characterisation of particle angularity using 3D scanner data. In the literature, angularity is often characterised using 2D data, as these types of data are easier to collect. 3D scanner data contain a vast amount of information (e.g. curvatures) which can be used for shape analysis and angularity characterisation. Literature approaches that use 3D data are often not thoroughly tested, due to a lack of test cases. In this work, two new curvature-based angularity indices are introduced and compared to one from the literature. Analytical test bodies with shapes ranging from spherical towards cubic are used for a first plausibility test. Then, 3D scans of ballast stones are compared to artificially rounded meshes. Only one out of three evaluated angularity indices seem to be suited to characterise angularity correctly in all of the above tests: the newly introduced scaled Willmore energy. A complete shape analysis of the scanned ballast stones is conducted and no difference between the two types of ballast can be seen regarding form, angularity, roughness, sphericity or convexity index. These findings of shape analysis are set in the context of previous works, where experimental results and DEM simulations of uniaxial compression tests and direct shear tests were presented for the same ballast types.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6045
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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