most recent new transport mode is maglev. The goal of using magnets
to achieve high speed travel with non-contact magnetically levitated
vehicles is almost a century old. In the early 1900's, Bachelet
in France and Goddard in the United States discussed the possibility
of using magnetically levitated vehicles for high speed transport.
However, they did not propose a practical way to achieve this goal.
In 1966, Powell and Danby proposed the first practical system for
magnetically levitated transport, using superconducting magnets
located on moving vehicles to induce currents in normal aluminum
loops on a guideway. The moving vehicles are automatically levitated
and stabilized, both vertically and laterally, as they move along
the guideway. The vehicles are magnetically propelled along the
guideway by a small AC current in the guideway. The original Powell-Danby
maglev inventions form the basis for the maglev system in Japan
, which is currently being demonstrated in Yamanashi Prefecture,
Japan. Powell and Danby have subsequently developed new Maglev inventions
that form the basis for their second generation M-2000 System.
Maglev promises to be the major new mode of transport for the 21st
Century. Because there is no mechanical contact between the vehicles
and the guideway, speeds can be extremely high. Traveling in the
atmosphere, air drag limits vehicles to speeds of about 300 mph.
Traveling in low pressure tunnels, maglev vehicles can operate at
speeds of thousands of miles per hour. The energy efficiency of
Maglev transport, either in kilowatt-hours per passenger mile for
personal transport, or kilowatt hours per ton-mile for freight,
is much lower for maglev than for autos, trucks, and airplanes.
It is pollution free, can use renewable energy sources such as solar
and wind power, and in contrast to oil and gas fueled transport,
does not contribute to global warming. It is weather independent,
and can carry enormous traffic loads - both people and goods - on
environmentally friendly, narrow guideways. The cost of moving people
and goods by maglev will be considerably less than by the present
modes of auto, truck, rail, and air.
In addition to dramatically improving transport capabilities on Earth,
maglev has the potential to greatly reduce the cost of launching
payloads into space. While it presently costs $10,000 per pound
to orbit payloads using rockets, the energy cost to orbit that same
pound would be only 50 cents per pound, if it were magnetically
accelerated to orbital velocity. As ultra high velocity magnetic
launchers are developed, the cost of reaching space will come down
to everyday, mass market standards.
These and additional maglev applications such as maglev for mining,
the Water Train and others will hold an important place in transportation