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Magnetic Levitation

Maglev Vehicles

Credit for foreseeing the applications of magnetic levitation in the construction of vehicles is usually given to rocket pioneer Robert Goddard. In 1907, Goddard published a story in which he described a vehicle that traveled by means of the principle of magnetic levitation. The first working model of such a vehicle was constructed in 1912 by the French engineer Emile Bachelet. Bachelet's vehicle was propelled by the repulsive forces set up between copper electromagnets suspended above an aluminum track. Bachelet's model proved to be a dead end, however, because the amount of electrical energy needed to create suspension was much too great to produce economically.

In fact, that problem was the primary reason that MAGLEV vehicles remained a dream until very recently. In order to lift an object weighing many tons, a very strong force of repulsion between vehicle and track must be created. The force of repulsion, in turn, can be produced only by means of very powerful electromagnets. The weight of such magnets and the electrical energy needed to operate them placed the idea of MAGLEV vehicles out of the realm of real-life technology for many decades.


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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Macrofauna to MathematicsMagnetic Levitation - Principle Of Operation, Maglev Vehicles, Superconducting Magnets, Disadvantages Of Maglev Vehicles, Prospects For Maglev Vehicles