ths1104

TechWatch – VacMaglev train

Posted in Sustainable development, Transportation by ths1104 on 21/05/2011

Description

The VacMagLev train is a as-yet-unbuilt Maglev train circulating in vacuum tubes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Advantages

  • No friction between the trains and the tracks (magnetic levitation)
  • No air drag (vacuum)
  • > High speed: up to 20,000 km/h [?] (no penalty of sonic boom)
  • > Low operating cost (energy costs to move the train, maintain the vacuum, cool and power the magnets are low compared to energy costs of conventional trains [1]) ?
  • Low greenhouse gases emissions (electric)
  • Possibility of regenerative breaking
  • Possibility of automation
  • Quiet operation (vacuum)
  • Safe

Drawbacks

  • High construction cost. For partial-vaccum tunnels, it costs US$2.95 million/km more than target Maglev lines price in China (US$24.6 million), or 12% of increase [6,7].
  • High centripetal forces if bended tubes ? (problem is inherent to any mode of transportation)

Facts

  • A laboratory at Southwest Jiaotong University, Sichuan, China, is working on a prototype with an average speed of 500 to 600 km/h running in partial-vacuum tunnels [5].
  • Suissmetro proposed to connect in Swiss cities with a VacMaglev running in partial-vacuum tunnels at up to 600 km/h [2].
  • F. P. Davidson and Y. Kyonati have proposed a VacMaglev transoceanic line using a tube floating 300 m below the ocean surface and anchored with cables, allowing to go from New York to London in less than one hour [3].
  • Dr. J. Powell has since 2001 led investigation of a concept using a VacMaglev system for space launch [4].

Claims

  • ” Establishing a Small-Diameter Vacuum-Enhanced MagLev (SDVEML) system would allow for virtually limitless transportation of materials, at significantly lower costs.” – D. Wade,  the Buckminster Fuller Challenge 2011, website.
  • “Passengers […] having paid $54 [can] travel in 54 minutes from the centre of New York to the centre of Los Angeles – R. M. Salter,  Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1978, link.
  • “The new technology […] is expected to be put into operation after ten years.” – Z. Yaoping,  academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering, [5].
  • “Speed in initial ET3 systems is 600km/h for in state trips, and will be developed to 6,500 km/h for international travel that will allow passenger or cargo travel from New York to Beijing in 2 hours.” – ET3, website.
  • “ET3 can be built for 1/10th the cost of High Speed Rail, or 1/4th the cost of a freeway.” – ET3, website.
  • “ET3 can provide 50 times more transportation per kWh than electric cars or trains.” – ET3, website.
  • “Vactrains could use gravity to assist their acceleration.” – R. Salter, LA Times, 06/11/1972.
  •  “The theoretical limit of the speed of the VacMaglev train is up to 20,000 km/h.” – Z. Yaoping ?
  • “In peak hours, a Swissmetro runs every 6 minutes with speeds up to 500km/h […].” – Suissmetro, website.

Notes

[1] Comparison between conventional train and vacmaglev train, ET3 website
[2] Suissmetro website
[3] Transatlantic Tunnel, Extreme Engineering. (video)
[4] Startram project website
[5] “China develops record-breaking 600kph maglev trains“, Q. Li, chinadaily.com.cn, 08/02/2010
[6] “Laboratory working on train to run at 1,000kph“, english.eastday.com, 08/03/2010
[7]”Shanghai maglev gets official approval“, M. Qing, China Daily, 04/27/2006

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