Technical Reports

The Feasibility of Magnetically Levitating High Speed Ground Vehicles

  • 01
  • Feb
  • 1972
AUTHOR: H. T. Coffey, F. Chilton, L. O. Hoppie
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: FRA-10001
SUBJECT: Facilities & Test Equipment, Maglev
KEYWORDS: Magnetic Levitation, Dynamic Testing, Stability, Guideways
ABSTRACT: To determine technical feasibility of magnetically levitated and guided high-speed ground transportation vehicles theoretical analyses of four suspension systems were conducted: (1) permanent magnet, (2) electromagnet-ferromagnetic guideway, (3) superconducting magnet, conducting coil guideway, (4) superconducting magnet conducting sheet guideway. All four were found to be feasible, with No. 4 the preferred. A magnet-guideway interaction theory was formulated for No. 4 based on a Fourier transform calculation of fields from rectangular magnets, assuming the guideway conducting sheets to be infinite. A Green's function was found for treating finite sheets and approximate calculations were made awaiting debugging of the computer program. Vehicle dynamic behavior was analyzed by computer using nonlinear equations of motion. Experiments on a small scale, U- shaped guideway gave vehicle lift forces that agreed with theory, drag forces that were high by 25%, and guidance forces that agreed in position dependence but disagreed in magnitude owing to finite width effects and lack of electrical contact between aluminum guideway plates. Damping vehicle motion with a cyrogenically cooled coil appears feasible. A dewar and magnet were designed that appear safe and feasible to operate. Six magnets will stably support and guide a 100,000-lb vehicle at speeds up to 500 mph.
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