Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Engineered Cementitious Composite Durable Railway Tie

Technology #6522

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Victor C. Li
Managed By
Richard Greeley
Senior Licensing Specialist, Engineering 734-936-2093
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Durable Railway Tie Railroad ties transfer loads as well as provide support for rail along railroad tracks. Current railroad ties are made with pre-stressed concrete. Impaired railroad tie durability has been observed over the last decade, which has lead to repeated replacement and undesired downtime of rail lines. The lack of railroad tie durability can lead to corrosion of the pre-stressed steel components that are within the rail line as well as abrasion under the steel rail. While the deterioration and lack of durability of railroad ties has sparked concern and interest from major railroad companies, no solution has been found and it remains a global rail industry problem.

Engineered Cementitious Composite Durable Railway Tie

The proposed technology is a non pre-stressed Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC) concrete tie with a structural stiffness optimized for rail riding stability. ECCs are a type of fiber-reinforced cementitious composites that exhibit favorable mechanical properties when subjected to loading. The technology leverages the load carrying capability of ECCs such that pre-stressing steel can be completely removed from the design, and therefore eliminates a potential failure mechanism of the railroad tie. The proposed ECC implements rubber crumb particles into the design to create a high strength and high ductility material with a stiffness that is 60% that of normal concrete. The ECC material also possesses self-repair capabilities that only require water and air. The unique mechanical properties of the proposed technology could prevent the deterioration of the tie under the rail, and the removal of steel from the proposed design could eliminate the possibility of steel corrosion and reduce rail costs.


  • Railroad and Automotive Transportation
  • Construction and Industrial Buildings and Infrastructure
  • Cement Foundations and Supports for Manufacturing Equipment and Machinery
  • Cement for joint replacement and implants
  • Cement Composite Research for Product Development


  • Reduced cost of railroad operation
  • Enhanced rail safety
  • Transit time reduction
  • Improved transit comfort
  • Enhanced rail user satisfaction
  • High fatigue resistance
  • High abrasion resistance