Mag-Lev Train Could Reach 2900 Km/h
Kyle Maxey posted on May 27, 2014 |
A new maglev concept could help trains reach super-sonic speeds and maybe be the precursor of a new ...
maglev, china. train. supersonic, hypersonic, speedMag-lev trains are arguably the most amazing machines running on (or slightly above) rails. Currently the world’s fastest maglev train, the Shanghai Transrapid, whisks passenger to and from the Shanghai airport at 501 km/h (311 mph). Though that speed is impressive, a new Chinese maglev model could leave Shanghai’s speedster in the dust.

Classified as a super-maglev, Southwest Jiaotong University’s megathermal superconducting maglev loop recently completed tests indicating that it could test the limits of maglev transportation.

Unlike it’s relatively plodding Shanghai cousin, Jiaotong’s prototype runs inside a vacuumed loop, or evacuation tube (ETT). Inside the Jiaotong ETT air resistance is effectively reduced to zero – maximizing the maglev’s potential. According to the super-maglev’s lead researcher, Dr. Deng Zigang, “If the running speed [of a maglev train] exceeds 400 kilometers (250 miles) per hour, more than 83 percent of traction energy will wastefully dissipate in air resistance.”

To create the Jiaotong super-maglev prototype Dr. Zigang and his team built a remote controlled maglev track set inside a 6m radius vacuum-ring. After evacuating the air, a small car was set inside the torus and accelerated to a top speed of 50km/h (30mph). Though quite a bit short of its potential, Dr. Zigang’s maglev achieved its goal of demonstrating that an ETT can be built and used as a transportation terminal. “The meaning of the project is that it will be the first one to realize the prototype of the future evacuation tube transportation (ETT),” said Zigang.

Currently, Zigang and his team are working on further tests to refine their ETT. Although no time table has been set for when a larger ETT prototype will be constructed, Dr. Zigang said his work continues. “At this moment, we are conducting evacuation tests on the new system. We will release our achievements after the successful running in the near future.”

While a fully functional super-maglev train could effectively end the need for cross-continental flights, or make commutes up the eastern seaboard a breeze, a more intriguing use could be its application as a space launch technology. Granted, Dr. Zigang’s maglev technology has a ways to go before it can hope to achieve a speed of 11.2 km/s, the Earth’s escape velocity. Nonetheless, the technology appears promising for rapid transit on Earth, and perhaps elsewhere in the not too distant future.

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