Southwest Jiaotong University, a university in Chengdu, Sichuan province, has revealed images of China’s first manned megathermal superconducting maglev (magnetic levitation) loop. The tests are conducted at the university’s Applied Superconductivity Laboratory. Last year in March the lab already completed the first high-temperature superconducting maglev ring test, but now the enclosed tube has been added, allowing researches to lower the pressure to one tenth of normal atmospheric pressure at sea level.
Project lead Dr Deng Zigang, associate professor of the Applied Superconductivity Laboratory, has estimated that in a lower pressure tube maglev speeds can be increased seven-fold. (The maximum operating speed of the maglev currently in use at Shanghai Pudong airport is 431 km/h). With regular maglevs, such as the one operating in Shanghai, over 83 percent of traction energy is dissipated through air drag at speeds higher than 400 km/h.
According to this publication in the IEEE journal of Applied Superconductivity, Southwest Jiaotong University has performed tests with high-temperature superconducting maglevs since 2000. The university is also home to the Key Laboratory of Magnetic Suspension Technology and Maglev Vehicle and the State Key Laboratory of Traction Power. A list of the latter’s research projects can be found here.
More information on the project can be found here.