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Magnetic Track + Superconductor = Rideable Hover-Board?

  1. Feb 27, 2010 #1
    A teacher at school was demonstrating some of the properties of superconductors and that got me thinking if it would be possible to get a person to hover. I did a bit of research and it seems that not only is this possible but it's already been done. I saw some videos of small toy vehicles with superconductors going around a magnetic track and I was just wondering if it could be scaled up?

    My idea was basically a 100 metre long magnetic track with a loop in the middle and have a person sitting on a board (to keep centre of gravity low) which has a high temperature superconductor attached (with some liquid nitrogen to keep it cool for the length of the track).

    The two problems I see are speed, and the forces acting when in the loop.
    First the speed problem, which is if the rider will have enough sped to complete the loop if he can only gain speed like the way a skateboard rider gains speed on the flat (using his foot)
    The second problem is, will the meissner effect keep the rider from falling off when he is going through the loop?

    The speed problem could be solved by having a setup similar to what a maglev uses to accelerate the rider to the optimum speed so he will clear the loop (or use gravity to gain speed).
    Not sure about the second problem, will the magnet + superconductor setup allow for manoeuvres similar to rollercoasters (loops, high G turns and straight up/down vertical movement)

    Also I'm not planning on building this or anything, because it would be ridiculously expensive, just finding out if it would work.

    You can't build a magnet rink about 100m sq. and then use the superconductor board to move freely across the rink can you? or does it only work with one axis i.e. you can only move in the x axis but not in both x & y axis at the same time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 27, 2010 #2


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    Yes, it can be done. It has even been demonstrated over, albeit) with a very short track.

    However, you are limited to following a track; i.e. you can not move freely over a surface (this has to do wih the configuration of the magnetic field).
  4. Feb 27, 2010 #3
    Appreciate the reply.

    So a person has been levitated and been moved on a short magnetic track?
    Have you got a link?

    What about the force that holds the magnet and the superconductor together. Will enough force be generated between the two components that the force holding the two together will be more than the force that is pulling them apart during the manoeuvrs?
  5. Apr 16, 2010 #4
    I was thinking more about a rideable board which would move freely in all directions instead of being limited on a track and I came across this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX1fkfJPWpY"
    As you can see, the person pushes the coil and it does not seem to be restricted.

    I realised that for this the 'board' will have to be quite big and will need to be connected to a power source with wires.

    So I thought of swapping the way it works, where a person rides the aluminium board and the rink has a load of those scaled up coils.

    I did a bit more research after I read about a man called Eric Laithwaite and I found a video of exactly what I was thinking of: http://www2.imperial.ac.uk/blog/videoarchive/2009/12/09/eric-laithwaite/" [Broken]

    If you arranged a hundred of these in a 10 meter by 10 meter rink, you could move around freely couldn't you?

    The thing that seems problematic is the heat generated by the coil, wouldn't it get too hot?
    You see videos of the wires smoking after a short while, but could this be solved by cooling the coil before and during operation to -100 degress celcius to keep the resistance low?
    Or you could always use http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/25436".

    Also like I said in my first post this is not for me to build, I'm just curious to know if it will work or not.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Apr 16, 2010 #5


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  7. Apr 17, 2010 #6
    thanks for the reply zapper.

    First I did look at maglev trains, but they move on a track and what I was asking was if I had an electromagnet rink and floated an aluminium block on it, could the person on top move around the entirety of the rink freely (the way an ice skater would be able to go anywhere on the rink).
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