Magnetic Levitation
The following paper was submitted and presented by me and my colleague in 2002 during our Engineering Degree Course. Maglev is a technology which uses magnetic forces to suspend vehicles in air, hence eliminating friction. This allows vehicles to achieve very high speeds which can revolutionize the ground transportation. The technology is environment friendly but is yet in development stage.

Ashutosh Agrawal
Email: aagrawal.ie@gmail.com Blog: www.frontiers2explore.blogspot.com LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/itsmeashu/

Kamla Nehru Institute of Technology. Anil Kumar Soni B. Sultanpur 2 . Mechanical Engg.Tech. final year.Tech.MAGLEV:A NEW PROMISE By: Ashutosh Agrawal B. final year. Mechanical Engg.

Introduction 3. Guideway Configurations 6. Abstract 2.CONTENTS 1. Propulsion System 5. Maglev Transportation 7. Levitation and Guidance Systems 4. References 3 . Conclusion 9. Maglev Launch System 8.

Because of its high speed. 4 . The levitation and guidance is achieved by either magnetic attraction ( EMS . ‘T’ and Box beam. Many feasible concepts of Maglev transportation like Skytran (for intracity transportation). The paper focuses on the technical aspects of Maglev that make this ‘flying in air’ phenomenon possible and its profitable applications in transportation and space launch. The propulsion is achieved by linear motor of either ‘long stator’ or ‘short stator’. In this magnetic forces lift. propel and guide a vehicle few centimeters above a guideway using magnetic forces.Electro Magnetic Suspension ) or repulsion ( EDS . Maglev may be able to offer competitive trip-time savings in transportation. The physical contact between vehicle and guideway is eliminated and permits cruising speeds in range of 500 km/h. The capability of Maglev of controlled lift of thousands of pounds into the air and high acceleration has ushered it into area of space vehicle launch systems.Electro Dynamic Suspension ).ABSTRACT Magnetic Levitation is an advanced technology known as Maglev in short. ‘U’. transrapid etc have been developed and so also the various possible configurations of the guideways like ‘Y’. autoshuttle.

Attractive force system technically known as Electro Magnetic Suspension or EMS. several countries including Germany.[1] levitation implies vertical support and guidance implies lateral support to ensure that train does not run off the track. From long ago magnetic forces has been known as capable of suspending ferromagnetic particles in air. Germany and Japan have invested over $1billion each to develop and demonstrate Maglev technology for High Speed Ground Transportation (HSGT) 1. Danby were granted a patent on their design of Maglev train1. completely eliminating the physical contact between train and guideway and enabling the speed up to 500km/h1. the concept of magnetically levitated trains was first identified by two Americans.INTRODUCTION ‘Trains that fly in air’. There are two principal means of both guidance and levitation. By the 1930’s Germany’s Hermann Kemper demonstrated the concept and in 1968 Americans James R. 5 . Powell and Gordon T. guided and propelled by magnetic fields a few centimeters above the guideway. Robert Goddard and Emile Bachelet1. Same principle is employed for both support and guidance. A Maglev train is levitated (i. Electro Magnetic Suspension: In this electromagnets are attracted to ferromagnetic rails on the guideway. Repulsive force system technically known as Electro Dynamic Suspension or EDS. lifted). But it was at the turn of 20th century. Japan and America have conducted R&D programs in Maglev technology. Maglevs has expanded its area of application with NASA experimenting on the use of Maglev for the cheaper launches of spacecrafts. Over the past two decades. LEVITATION AND GUIDANCE SYSTEMS As shown in the fig.e. but only a few know the magnificent yet simple principle behind it. has fascinated many.

dynamic loads and guideway irregularities are compensated for by changing the magnetic field in response to air gap measurements. ‘8’ shaped coil. 6 . In case of EMS system if onboard electrical system were to fail then vehicle will touch down at very moment at high speed of 500km/h and the result can be catastrophic. This flaw as it may be seen is an advantage as it provides fail safe security in case if electrical drive systems fail. Drift between the rails and levitation magnets caused by wind or when the train rounds a curve. The widening gap is sensed by gap sensors and the current is increased in leviatation magnets to increase the magnetic attraction till train comes back directly above the guide rails. The gap widens between rail and track because of shortage of magnetic force. So the vehicle must be equipped with some support like wheels for speed below the 40km/h limit. Variations in payload weight. upto 40km/h1 to levitate the vehicle. However this system requires speed approx.In the figure below the bar in blue colour is the guiderail and the one in red is electromagnet on underside of the train. This system is inherently stable for both support and guidance because magnetic repulsion increases as the air gap decreases. The induction coils that can be used are of two types: Simple single coil of shape ‘ ’. The resulting repulsive force suspends the vehicle in air. The system is called null flux system and is worth discussing. Electro Dynamic Suspension: In this the magnets on the moving vehicle induce currents in the induction coils of guideway as it passes over it. The vehicle will be still levitated at speeds above the 40km/h and will slowly touch down the rails as speed will drop.

Both act simultaneously to levitate the vehicle. thus levitating the train car. So in a superconducting solenoid large current will keep circulating for long periods. the magnets induce current in the track's circuits(‘ ’ shaped coil).Null Flux System: In this system induction coils are wound as figure ‘8’. The current flows in the material without any loss. PROPULSION SYSTEM There are two alternatives for propulsion: Non-magnetic energy source: gas turbine or turboprop can be used for the propulsion but this results in a heavy vehicle and reduced operating efficiency. the net flux is zero. electric current is induced within the coils which then act as electromagnets temporarily.[3]. Eg: TcYbaCuO. The result is a repulsive force in lower half of the coil pushing it upward and attractive force in upper half of the coil pulling it upward. These coils are mounted on sidewalls of guideway. less material and produce magnetic field upto 5-10 T. Halbach array: In this permanent magnets are arranged in alternate vertical and horizontal pattern so that the magnetic-field lines reinforce one another below the array but cancel one another above it. If vehicle’s magnetic field passes directly through centre of the ‘8’ shaped coil. which produces an electromagnetic field that repels the array. Iron & Boron) which are arranged in Halbach array4 (invented by Klaus Halbach). Refer fig. critical temp:77K5. Please refer fig. There are currently two choices of magnets used on the vehicle in EDS: Superconducting magnets: The electrical resistivity of a superconducting material becomes zero below a certain critical temperature. Refer fig. When moving. But if field is slightly below their centre.[2]. Halbach arrays can also provide lateral stability if they are deployed alongside the track's circuits. 7 . Permanent magnets: the pemanent magnets used are that of Ne-Fe-B (Neodymium. A superconducting magnet require small space.[4]. Magnetic energy source: It employs the principle of linear motor for the propulsion.

An array of substations along the wayside sends three phase AC power. Interaction between the vehicle magnets and laminated Aluminium ladder on each guideway sidewall generates lift and guidance. Of the two the Long Stator propulsion is having high initial cost but it has high payload capacity and lower operating cost and studies indicate it to be a favoured option. The on-board magnets are attracted and pushed by the shifting field. Fig. The propulsion coils located on the sidewalls on both sides of the guideway are energized by a three-phase alternating current from a substation. to the windings. Propulsion windings are also attached to the guideway sidewalls. Only the section of the guideway under the train receives power as vehicle rides on the magnetic wave. propelling the Maglev vehicle There are two possible cnfigurations of linear motor: Long Stator: ‘Long Stator’ propulsion uses an elctrically powered linear motor winding in the guideway. Short Stator: In this the motor winding is on the vehicle and the guideway is passive. creating a shifting magnetic field on the guideway. GUIDEWAY CONFIGURATIONS The one of the main advantages of maglev is the flexibility it offers in guideways configurations. Box Beam: In this vehicle straddles on a concrete box beam guideway. The power flows in a linear sequence to generate a magnetic wave along the guideway. The drive coils in long stator can be interspersed among the track's levitating circuits. 8 .[5].A repulsive force and an attractive force induced between the magnets are used to propel the vehicle. in synchronization with train motion.

trucks etc. Maglev Trains: Maglev trains are capable of travelling at twice the speed of their fastest counterparts wheel-on-rail train TGV of France. 3. 34 km long Maglev track connecting Longyang Road Station on Metro Line II with Pudong International Airport in China.shaped guideway: Here the vehicle wraps around a Y-shaped ferromagnetic guideway. The pole faces of vehicle electromagnets are attracted to the underside of the ferromagnetic guideway. Maglev track between Osaka and Tokyo in Japan which would reduce the trip time from bullet train’s 2 hours 30 mins to 1 hour1. 4. Fig. The guideway has LSM windings for propulsion.[7]. Autoshuttle6: It is a German dual-mode concept that utilizes Maglev carriers to transport a variety of conventional vehicles like cars. Various commercial maglev train projects are in progress all over the world. designed for 433 kmph speed9. LSM propulsion coils are also located on sidewalls. The advantage is that a common set of vehicle magnets are used for levitation. We discuss here the concepts whose feasibilities have been established through extensive studies. T .shaped guideway: The vehicles wrap around this T shaped ferromagnetic guideway. 1. Levitation and guidance are based on EMS system. 2. The electromagnets for levitaion are located underneath the guideway and that for guidance are mounted on the edge of guideway. The guideway has LSM windings which interact with lift electromagnets mounted on vehicle.[6]. Fig. and the possibilities of many more are immense.shaped guideway: Null flux (8-shaped) levitation coils located on the sidewalls provide levitation and guidance. guidance and proplulsion unlike in T-shaped which required two separate vehicle magnets. Maglev track between Hamburg and Berlin and between downtown Pittsburgh & the airport in Germany1 . Y . 9 .U . The result is considerable trip time savings and faster trips which makes its commercialisation feasible. Maglev track connecting cities of Washington and Baltimore10. MAGLEV TRANSPORTATION Due to the flexibility maglev offers many concepts of transportation which have been worked out.

it could substantially cut the cost of launching satellites. on call.6 m/s2 ) until it reaches a speed of 400 milesph (643. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore. One set forms the stator that propels the vehicle and the other . windings levitate and guide the vehicle.Skytran7: Small podlike two-passenger cars would be suspended from a monorail-type track that would support the levitating circuits.[9]. NASA envisions a track a mile and a half long ( 2. MAGLEV LAUNCH SYSTEM Studies by NASA have shown that if their rockets could be accelerated up a sloping track to speeds on the order of Mach 0.24 m) long working model of spacecraft maglifter at Marshall Centre in Huntsville. Such a system could reduce the required rocket fuel by 30 to 40 percent. Fig. 10 . thus avoiding use of superconductors which requires cooling at cryogenic temperatures. The cars would be available. thereby making it easier for a single-stage vehicle to boost a payload into orbit4.54 kmph) in less than half a second3.2 m) long is in two parts: the first half contains the drive motor and the other comprise a magnetic brake. The contestants of this NASA project are PRT Advanced Maglev Systems. The experimental track built by it is 40 feet (12.1 m) or in three-tenth of a second3.6 kmph). Refer fig. A 20 feet (6. The test vehicle weighing 30 lb reached speeds of 60 mph (96. It was able to gain 58 mph (93 kmph) in 20 feet (6. California is building a mag-lifter using permanent magnets arranged in Halbach array.4 km ) on which a winged craft would ride on a sled that would be magnetically levitated and propelled at an acceleration of 2 gs ( 19.1 m) long working model has been built and a larger working model is under construction at Livermore3. it would glide up to the main track and merge with the traffic speeding by the station at 160 kmph. Foster-Miller and Lawrence Livermore National Lab3.[8]. dropping down to the station to allow the passengers to disembark. at each station in the system. As a car approaches its destination. PRT Advanced Maglev Systems of Park Forest built a 50 feet (15.8 (950 kilometers per hour) before the rocket engines were fired up.‘Null-Flux’. After the passengers board a car. it would switch to an exit track. Foster-Miller’s maglev launch system for NASA uses two sets of windings on the track. Ala.

At speeds above 155 mph. High safety – both percieved and actual as based on the experiments. At least 12. vibration free. Petroleum independence with respect to air and auto as a result of being electrically powered. Higher capacity than air.The goal of using magnetic levitation is to help to reach a target of reducing the cost of launching payload from the present $10. wheather it is on rail or levitated1. Faster trips :. More speed = More passengers. Less polluting as a result of being electrically powered.000 a pound to less than $1000 and perhaps eventually to $200 a pound or so3. most of the noise produced by vehicle is of aerodynamic origin. ADVANTAGES OF MAGLEV Unlike trains or cars there is no surface contact or friction to slow them down.High peak speed and high acceleration/braking enable average speed 3-4 times the national highway speed limit of 65 mph (105 kmph).4 kmph) the noise produced by Maglev trains is less than that by conventional trains. 11 . Convinience and Comfort – due to high frequency of service.000 passengers with potential for even higher capacities at 3-4 minutes headways1. Emissions can be controlled more effectively at the source of electric power generation than at many points of consumption. At speeds below 155 mph (249.Less susceptible to congestion and wheather conditions than air and highway. High reliability :. such as with air and automobile usage. smooth-assilk train rides and quieter.

China and Japan should leave no room of doubt for its economical viability. The other aspect of financial feasibility is subjective to a country. Over the years India has developed strong infrastructure for space exploration and has its own array of launch vehicles and a reusable vehicle ‘Avataar’ on the cards. in future. Both test systems have have supplemented Maglev as the promise of a faster. The technical feasibility has been stablished by status of Japanese MLU002 prototype system currently being run in yamanshi test line5 & by German transrapid system at Emsland test facility8. Germany. The need to upgrade this technology for a nation can be summed up in one sentence that high mobility is linked with eonomic growth and productivity of nation. With NASA in persuit of low cost maglev launch its time that India too must venture into this field so that it can compete. widespread rail network which is now bogged down by congestion. smoother. Studies in America were carried out by National Maglev Initiative (NMI) evaluated Maglev potential and in short their conclusion was that a 300 mph ( 483 kmph ) is entirely feasible1. clean and safer ride. By this we can replace the conventional trains with maglev trains in phased manner. demography and existing transportation systems. Various commercial projects in America. India has the most complex. To judge its financial feasibility its cost and revenue estimates have to be extensively studied in context of the geography. Maglev provides the flexibility to equip existing steel tracks with magnetic levitation (based on EDS) and propulsion system. 12 . The space launch systems based on maglev are also feasible as indicated by NASA.CONCLUSION Any practical and commercial use of maglev has to be examined for technical & financial feasibility. The possible incorporation of both steel track and maglev guideway is hinted in figure. in the growing billion dollar market of satellite launch. This will help in operating both maglev and conventional trains on same track. Various test models have proved its technical feasibility and cost studies by NASA clearly indicate cheaper launching in future.

REFERENCES 1. www. Feb 2000. ‘Transrapid International’.goldsea.. Japan. 9. Dr.’US Developers Join Magnetic Rail Push’. ‘Induction for the Birds’. ‘Skytran’. NewYork. NewYork. ASME. DOE. 4. ‘Shanghai Builds Maglev Rail Line’. Jan 2000. ‘Maglev: A New Approach’.or. Post.net . 8.rtri. www. ‘Final Report on the National Maglev Initiative’. August 1993. 3.jp . formed by DOT. Inventor of Inductrack Passive Magnetic Levitation.S. Associate Editor. Leo O’ Connor.skytran.bts.gov . Railway Technical Research Institute. (U. Mechanical Engineering. USACE and others.de . www. 7. ‘Autoshuttle’.). National Maglev Initiative (NMI). 6. www. 2. www. Mechanical Engineering. Richard F.bwmaglev. ASME.com 13 .transrapid.com 10. Barbara Wolcott. www. www. ‘Maglev’. ‘Baltimore-Washington Project’. 5.de . Scientific American.autoshuttle.

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