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How do Electromagnets work in Maglev's?

  1. Sep 5, 2008 #1

    I need to grasp an understanding of how electromagnets work in a maglev train system for my senior physics research task but I am having trouble understanding what the sources I find are saying.

    I was wondering if anybody would be able to explain how the electromagnets make the train move and also keep it levitated.

    Thank you


    P.S - I have a sound knowledge of electromagnetic induction so feel free to use detail, thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2008 #2


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    I'm not sure at what level of difficulty your understanding is at (conceptual, implementation, electromagnetic analysis, modeling of train), but I'll attempt to answer at higher-levels.

    For a VERY high-level overview:

    For a (slightly) lower-level overview...

    Imagine you have two permanent bar magnets in your two hands. Now imagine you've got your two hands in front of you, one magnet in each (closed) fist, with the north of one magnet facing the south of the other, and a small space in-between with an iron nail. Now you move your hands forward and drag the nail along without having to actually touch the nail (unless you have weak magnets).

    Now, change the arms to be tracks, the nail to be a train, and instead of moving permanent magnets, you have electromagnets all the way down both tracks that turn on (and off) in sequence, moving a region of magnetization down the track, and you've got a (type of) Maglev. Or a rail gun.
  4. Sep 6, 2008 #3
    Thats great,
    It makes so much more sense than what alot of websites were saying

    Thank you so much
  5. Sep 9, 2008 #4


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    Oops... That should've been Gauss Rifle (or coil gun), not rail gun.
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