China: this revolutionary sky train travels at 120 km/h and consumes no energy
Author: Clark Tos
A new Sky Train test track in southern China has pioneered the world's first maglev mass transit system, which uses permanent magnets instead of electromagnets. He is thus able to keep his wagons suspended indefinitely without a power supply, a great first.
The advantages of maglev public transportation systems are pretty clear: they are nearly silent, low maintenance, and eliminate rolling resistance, so they use less energy to accelerate. In contrast, they are not often used in slow-speed transit services, as the energy used to levitate a conventional maglev train adds about 15% to the overall energy bill at suburban speeds, compared to to a subway.
But this only applies if electromagnets are used. Permanent magnets deliver their magnetic forces 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and for free provided you can source the rare metals needed to make them into permanent magnets. And precisely, the China has almost 40% of the world's reserves of these materials, twice as much as its neighbor Vietnam, which occupies second place. It also extracts far more of these metals than any other country, and it dominates the processing and supply chain – just six Chinese state-owned companies produced 85% of the world's rare metals in 2020.
For now, the Sky Train unveiled last week in Xingguoil County is only experimental. It is a simple 800 meter test track, built on steel poles that lift the track 10 meters into the air. A two-car train carrying up to 88 passengers is magnetically suspended beneath the track, without any contact with it, it glides, silent and frictionless, between elevated passenger platforms at speeds of up to 80 km/h . Once the trials are complete, the system will be extended to a 7.5 km track, with a higher top speed of around 120 km/h.
A train that has many advantages
Obviously, as it is mounted on poles, it requires less floor space than a train light and, according to the South China Morning Post, these sky trains cost about a tenth of the price of a subway, even taking into account the large amounts of neodymium used. And for good reason, a neodymium-reinforced magnet loses less than 5% of its magnetism in a century. Thanks to this method, these new installations could thus prove to be particularly durable and therefore largely limit the cost of maintenance.
Credit: CCTVSource : Daily Mail