Q:

How do bullet trains work?

A:

Quick Answer

Bullet trains, also called maglev trains, operate with magnetic levitation technology developed by Japanese and German engineers. Japanese engineers refer to their method as electrodynamic suspension while German engineers refer to their method as electromagnetic suspension. Either way, magnets raise the trains above the track, which means there is no need for wheels.

Know More
How do bullet trains work?
Credit: Gary Conner Photolibrary Getty Images

Full Answer

Essentially, electromagnetic suspension operates through magnetic attraction. Bullet trains are outfitted with electromagnets along their undercarriages. The track, meanwhile, is equipped with coils. An electrical current supplied to the electromagnets and monitored by computers constantly changes the polarity of the coils, which allows the magnetic fields system to push and pull the train along the track.

Electrodynamic suspension operates with repulsion magnets. Through this method, the magnetic levitation force keeps the train in a stable position by balancing its weight. This method works with electromagnetic coils on the track and super-cooled superconducting magnets on the train cars. When the trains approach the coils, a current is generated. This current allows the train to levitate roughly 1 inch above the track and center itself.

Bullet trains are capable of speeds of 300 miles per hour or more. Each train carries a battery power supply that operators can engage in the event of a power outage to prevent a sudden stop in levitation that results in a crash.

People with pacemakers are told to avoid riding on bullet trains as the magnetic fields have the potential to interfere with the medical devices.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    How fast can maglev trains travel?

    A:

    Maglev trains can reach speeds of up to 361 mph. This was the fastest speed reached by the MLX01, which was measured on December 2, 2003. Executed on the Yamanashi maglev test line in Japan, the test run was administered by the Central Japan Railway Company and the Railway Technical Research Institute.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How far can a bullet travel underwater?

    A:

    According to MythBusters, bullets from high-powered guns disintegrate in less than 3 feet underwater. Slower bullets, including those from pistols, travel for about 8 feet underwater. Bullets fired at an angle stop underwater at shorter ranges than those fired vertically into water.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the terminal velocity of a bullet?

    A:

    Terminal velocities of bullets vary by caliber, but can reach 300 to 700 feet per second. For example, a .30 caliber bullet's terminal velocity is 300 feet per second. If the bullet is shot at an angle and keeps its arc, it is more likely to reach terminal velocity.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Can a bullet have the same momentum as a truck?

    A:

    A bullet can have the same momentum as a truck if it is moving fast enough. Momentum is defined in classical physics as the product of mass and velocity. A bullet has a fixed mass, so by sufficiently increasing the velocity it can achieve the momentum of a truck.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore