Alexander Bolonkin proposes a hypersonic ground based electric engine that is several times more efficient than railguns and more economical than maglev rail.
The main idea of the offered ground hypersonic electric engine is segmentation of the acceleration track on small special closed-loop sections (12.5 – 100 meters) and a system of special switches which allow return of the magnetic energy to the system transferring it to apparatus movement. This increases the efficiency of hypersonic engine up 90% (instead of 20-40% for a railgun). It avoids the burning of rails when using the engine for long periods of time. The same idea may be used in a conventional Rail Gun.
The feasibility and practicality of this invention was designed for the purpose of using it as a space launcher for astronauts and space load, as method for hypersonic long distance aviation and as method for supersonic passenger ground rail transportation. The offered system will be significantly cheaper than the currently used MagLev (Magnetic Levitation) systems, because the vehicle employs conventional wings for levitation and the hypersonic engine is very simple. The offered system may be also used for mass launch of projectiles as a weapon.
The suggested launcher is
* very simple
* uses conventional iron rails
* does not generate high heating
* can be produced with present technology.
* A large conventional power plant is enough for launching over ten tons into orbit.
The system uses conventional iron rails which are 28 times cheaper than copper and 7 times cheaper than aluminum rails. Iron rails have in 3 – 6 times more specific electric resistance. The road with these conventional iron rails may be used as a high speed conventional rail track. That means that in the worst case scenario the cost of construction will not be lost. The longest in World Beijing to Guangzhou high-speed line (China) will open Dec. 26, 2012. A 2,298-kilometer (1,428 mile) line links the nation’s capital and the southern city will have average speed 300 km/hours. The speed record of rail train is about 580 km/hour. The offered space launcher will need an initial acceleration up 100 m/s (360 km/hour) by a conventional locomotive because HABE has low efficiency in low speed. After initial acceleration the locomotive will be disconnected from launcher. The other features of the offered road (if one will be used also as a space and long distance aviation accelerator) are following: one must be strictly rectilinear and into a light (better partially transparent) tube. Sound waves from supersonic and hypersonic flight should not disturb the nearest population.
A conventional power electric station can produce sufficient energy to operate the offered HABE but the offered HABE engine needs a set of the electric transformers to produce a high ampere electric current.
Description and Innovations
It has two rails 1, 2, sliding jumper 3 and an electric current source 11. That part is same as conventional railguns. But unlike the railgun the path is divided into small sections which are only activated when the apparatus moves along in that section. In this design, the rails contain two special motionless jumpers 14, 15 and special three position electric switches 8. Every part of the railway contains two sections 17 and 16. In the first 5 section 17 the apparatus is accelerated by the outer electric source 11. And in the second section 16 the apparatus is accelerated by the internal inductive electric energy of that part. This operation significantly increases the efficiency coefficient, saves energy and saves the rails from thermal distraction which allows acceleration over any length which can therefore reach a very high speed.
Another cost saving feature is that in this design, the railway can be conventional iron rails (not from expensive copper) and small cross-section area which allows using the conventional high voltage electric line for delivering electric energy along the long acceleration distance.
The suggested system works the following way. When the apparatus (jumper 3) located at point “a”, the switch 8 turn on to contact 10 and connect the circuit “abcde” to the electric source 11 (transformer of the high voltage electric line 12). The electric current runs into circuit “abcde”. As the result the moving force appears in jumper 3 and move the jumper and apparatus 5 in direction 6. Simultaneously the circuit “abcd” accumulates the electric energy into Magnetic field. The accumulated energy is large because the current is strong.
When the apparatus reaches point 13 the switch is disconnected from the contact 10 (from outer electric source 11) and one is connected to contact 9 and completes the electric circuit “abcd”. The electric current will decrease, but an inductive magnetic field of “abcd” hinder it and at the same time produces the electric current into circuit “abcd” in the same direction.
The offered hypersonic liner electric engine (HABE) has the following advantages over the RailGun:
1) The railgun is acceptable only for small projectile (some kg) because one cannot have a long barrel (the efficiency became the very small). That means that the railgun must have a very large acceleration not acceptable for manned vehicles. The manned vehicles can have a maximum acceleration 3 – 7 g. The HABE does not have it limitation.
2) The railgun has low efficiency in using electric energy (it losses the inductive energy). The HABE does not have this limitation because it utilizes the internal inductive energy.
3) The inductive energy of railgun in the moment of projectile leaving of barrel is released as a gigantic plasma flash and creates the thermal distraction of rails. The HABE does not have this limitation.
4) The unit length of HABE is cheaper because allows design of the path from conventional iron rails (not from expensive copper) and rail has a small (conventional) cross-section area.
5) HABE allows using the conventional high voltage electric line for delivering electric energy along the large acceleration distance.
6) HABE is able to accelerate large mass (train, hypersonic aircraft, space ships).
7) HABE may be used as engine for super high speed ground transport.
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