Tuesday, June 23, 2009

China's Maglev Systems

Next Big Future has this absolutely amazing bit on magnetically levitated systems in development; several of their systems will be tested with freight, with the belief it could be three times cheaper than rail. A number of sources are sighted; read on...

The post first jumps into two systems being developed in Inner Mongolia:

Cost studies show $0.13 to 0.017 per ton-mile depending upon the length of magnetic pipe. Rail and truck costs are in the $0.35 to 0.05 per ton-mile cost range.

The first system is being co-developed by the Chinese motor manufacturer Harbin Electric and a domestic Maglev (magnetic levitation) technology specialist. The first phase of the project – to build a 850m-long linear motor-driven freight test track at a coal mine – is already underway.Once the test track has been validated, the project is expected to expand to a 32km-long coal transportation line in Inner Mongolia, with Harbin providing the linear motor drive systems.The second maglev system is being developed by a joint venture between US-based Magplane Technology, and Chinese partners. This will use a tubular maglev system called MagPipes to move coal from Mongolian mines. A 32-acre (12.9ha) facility (shown above) is being built at Baotou in Inner Mongolia, which will be able to build up 200km of MagPipes a year. Production of components has been sub-contracted to Chinese suppliers.

A description of the pipelines...

Magplane Technology designs and fabricates pipeline transport systems using the linear synchronous motor technology developed for the Magplane system. Typical applications for pipeline transport range from priority mail packages to ore transport. A typical ore application would have an underground pair of 60 cm diameter pipes for outbound and returning capsules, and typically carry 10 millions tons per year over a distance of 50 km.  Electromagnetic drives for pipeline systems are intended to replace pneumatic capsules. Pneumatic capsule pipelines have a long history, and there are several large scale systems in current use. Conventional pneumatic systems use external blowers to move the column of air together with the capsules in the pipe. Full-diameter valves are used to control the injection, removal and subsequent return of capsules. Various practical limits constrain the throughput of these systems and limit their cost effectiveness.A demonstration project which uses a linear synchronous motor to move vehicles has been constructed at the IMC-Agrico Company in Lakeland, FL. The demonstration utilizes 200 m of 60 cm diameter cylindrical cast "waste water" fiberglass tube, and includes a 60 m long
accelerator/decelerator section, a switch, and load and unload stations. The
test vehicle traverses back and forth at a peak speed of 65 km/hr. The 1.8 m
long wheelbase vehicle uses six-wheel assemblies at each end of a rotating
hopper, and has a payload capacity of 270 kg. The vehicle carries an array of neodymium-iron boron permanent magnets which interact with the linear motor
mounted on the outside of the tube to provide propulsion, and with external
coils to provide an electromagnetic switch function.

And there's plenty more to read. Great post!

- Brewskie

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