Scientists successfully test 'super-maglev' that could hit 1,800 mph

By Joe McGee, May 14, 2014

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Scientists at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu have successfully tested a "super-maglev" train, that could theoretically travel as fast as 2,900 kph (1,800 mph), or three times the speed of a commercial passenger jet. 

Deng Zigang, the professor leading the project at the Applied Superconductivity Laboratory, said the super-maglev would operate inside a vacuum tube to remove air resistance, a crucial component to achieving top speeds. 

With existing maglev trains, if their speed exceeds 400 kph (248 mph), more than 83 percent of overall energy will be lost to air resistance.

Deng's research team built China's first "megathermal superconducting maglev loop" model, which is 12 meters in diameter, to test run the concept. Though the model has only hit a leisurely 50 kph (31 mph) so far, Deng is confident that this speed could be dramatically increased by raising temperatures and using a more powerful superconducting maglev ring. 

First proposed in the mid-20th century, magnetic levitation trains have become a favoured alternative for authorities looking to build a mass transit system that can achieve much higher speeds and use less energy than other forms of transport. 

The world's fastest passenger train is currently the Shanghai Maglev, which hits 431 kph (268 mph) in commercial operations. 

But Deng's hopes for the maglev's future are not restricted solely to commercial transportation. Speaking to reporters, he noted the potential the system could have in advanced military technology and space vehicles. 

However, as points out, if this nutjob gets his hands on the technology, it could be used to fulfil the ambitious plan of connecting China, Russia, Canada, Japan and the US all through one giant, railway system. 

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