Möbius Maglev Train Track

Möbius-shaped track for superconducting maglev train. Photo courtesy of SRD.

A world-first superconducting flux pinning demonstrator with a magnetically levitated train rotating about its own axis in three dimensions.

Möbius track for superconducting magnetically levitating train

As part of the MOSEM² project a group of students at Vestfold University College, Norway, has developed and produced a unique Möbius-shaped magnetic track for a superconducting levitating train. This is an extension of the High-Tech Kit from the MOSEM project, which contains superconducting pellets, regular NdFeB “supermagnets” and a straight (linear) magnetic track for demonstration of two types of levitation; with the Meissner effect and with flux pinning.

Our Möbius Maglev Train Track was first in the world.

Before our project, there were many superconducting train tracks with variations in shape ranging from flat circles or ovals, figure 8 or more advanced with or without crossings in 2 or more planes, loops or even vertical tracks where the train would levitate next to a wall. Videos of several of these can be found easily through a search on YouTube. But none of these tracks were shaped as a Möbius band, and after having our video on YouTube for more than 2 years now, nobody has come forward claiming they made one before we did. Therefore we maintain our claim:

See our YouTube video of the Möbius Maglev Train Track!

Other Möbius-shaped tracks have since been made, but still none of these have the exact same shape as ours, where the entire Möbius band lies in the same plane. This minimizes the curvature and allows the train to travel around the track at very slow speeds without stopping due to changes in the gravitational potential energy (also known as humps or dumps in the track), and for the same reason it also allows the train to travel around the track at very high speeds without jumping off the track at the top of a “hill”.

Superconducting maglev train levitating above Möbius Maglev Train Track. Photo courtesy of SRD.

Superconducting maglev train levitating above Möbius Maglev Train Track. Photo courtesy of SRD.

An extension of the High-Tech Kit from the MOSEM project, the Möbius Maglev Train Track employs the flux pinning phenomenon to keep the train “on track” while it zips around the track. The geometry of a Möbius band allows the train to keep going in circles while also turning around its own axis. A short explanation of how this works can be found on our exhibition poster.

Superconducting train on plexiglass spacer on linear track before cooling

Superconducting train on plexiglass spacer on linear track before cooling. Photo courtesy of SRD.

The Möbius Maglev Train Track proves that levitation with flux pinning is highly stable and different from magnetic levitation by simple magnetic repulsion using electromagnets (used by commercial full-size levitating trains) or permanent magnets (used by some model trains) that can only work on a horizontal track.

We believe this model demonstrates a completely new concept that inspires a vision for the future of transportation, provided that technical solutions can be found that makes this design economical at an industrial scale. The potential discovery of a room-temperature superconductor would herald a new era for both the energy and transportation industries, and then our Möbius Maglev Train Track is proof of concept. Meanwhile it remains a captivating demonstration of quantum mechanics and contemporary physics research that can be touched and seen.

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The article was written on 2013-04-10, in the category Products.

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