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Chinese Professor Develops New Magnetic Train

The sample Magnetic Array Suspension train debuts at the Sixth Shanghai International Industry Fair. The MAS train is powered by a combination of attraction and repulsion generated from permanent magnets both on the train and the tracks.
Shanghai, China (SPX) Nov 08, 2004
A Shanghai physics professor says he has the technology for the first magnetic train fully developed in China. Wei Lehan, 66, a professor at Shanghai Normal University, says the Magnetic Array Suspension (MAS) system he developed is the first in the nation with independent intellectual property rights.

A sample train, on show at the Sixth Shanghai International Industry Fair, attracted many professional visitors Thursday.

The train's technology is different from models used in Germany and Japan.The MAS train is powered by a combination of attraction and repulsion generated from permanent magnets both on the train and the tracks.

Building an MAS system, he said, would cost about 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) per kilometre, about one-10th what the German technology would cost.

It would also save considerable amounts of land and energy.

"I am sure of the future success of this revolutionary technology, though there are many other non-technological obstacles," said Wei, driving visitors back and forth on his model.

Compared with the luxury maglev train running in Pudong from Longyang Station to Pudong International Airport, the train Wei has built with the help of two workers in five months looked shabby. It was poorly decorated and the control board was very simple.

The sample, 3.75 metres long and 1.4 metres wide, sits six people inside a silver and white train car.

When the train, powered by three batteries used for ordinary electric bikes, moves on the 11-metre-long tracks, it emits an uneasy noise.

"The tracks had to be cut into halves before being moved from the school here and the connection is not so smooth," Wei explained.

Said by Wei to "shame all other maglev experts in the world if successful," the technology was authenticated by the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission in late October.

"It is improper to point out all the shortcomings of his work, but science is a serious thing and the development of a new technology usually takes a long time and a lot of tests," said Wu Xiangming, chief engineer of the Pudong maglev.

Though Wei hopes his technology will be commercialized soon, there have only been inquiries to date, with no specific investments in sight.

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