China tests world’s first maglev aerial train. There is no contact between the rail and the convoy. Uses powerful magnets with rare earth elements.
Although we are not yet moving around on flying cars and skateboards like in Blade Runner or Back to the Future, it seems that the future is getting closer. This is demonstrated by China, which has tested the world’s first magnetic levitation aerial train . Unlike traditional lines, it requires a minimal amount of power and there is no contact between the rail and the convoy .
The new experimental line is located in the province of Jiangxi, in southern China, and is currently 800 meters long. Its peculiarity lies in the use of powerful magnets rich in rare earth elements, which allows it to generate a constant repulsion force powerful enough to move a train suspended 10 meters from the ground with 88 passengers and at a speed of 80 km/h. h, as published by China Central television .
To generate this suspension, researchers at the Jiangxi University of Science and Technology have built an arm with permanent magnets on the train that surrounds and repels those on the rail. In this way, the convoy moves with hardly any electricity, hardly generates electromagnetic radiation and, in addition, reduces its construction cost to a tenth of the usual ones .
However, it also has some other drawbacks. The main challenge facing the researchers is to maintain the stability of the train in a floating state without power . On the other hand, the strong electromagnetic field that allows the train to be suspended can also affect the environment and people living near the tracks. To which is added the fact that, despite the fact that these magnets are more durable than traditional ones, the extraction of rare earths is highly polluting.
Looking to the future, the plan of the Chinese authorities is to extend the line to 7.5 km and its maximum operating speed to 120 km/h . In addition, other Chinese cities are also building or planning to bet on this technology. In some cases, the trains can reach 600 km/h, according to the South China Morning Post .
Currently, China controls 70% of the world’s rare earth market – a figure that the White House lowers to 55% – and, in addition, is the main responsible for turning them into magnets, according to analysts consulted by The Wall Street Journal . The 17 chemical elements that compose them are highly valued for their magnetic and conductive properties, essential for the automobile industry and numerous electronic devices.