How Maglev Works
Maglev 2000

History of transportation

Transportation as civilization

Early breakthroughs

Modern transport

The maglev revolution

Superconducting maglev

Learning to levitate

How the M-2000 system works

M-2000 guideways

M-2000 Vehicles


Maglev FAQ

History of transportationthe maglev revolution

The 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 history

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