Motion System Design

Patent advances maglev technology

MagneMotion Inc., Acton, Mass., a developer and manufacturer of linear synchronous motor (LSM) products and systems, was awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,448,327 related to development of magnetic levitation (maglev) systems. The patent builds on Patent No. 6,983,701, which recognizes the company's use of a single magnetic structure to provide suspension, guidance, and propulsion of vehicles on a guideway, eliminating a level of complexity and costs found in other maglev systems.

The new patent expands on the initial patent in two main ways. First, the magnets in the single magnetic structure are offset, thereby providing lateral stability; second, control coils are wrapped around these offset magnets to stabilize and maintain the magnetic gap when the vehicle is levitated. Together the inventions improve ride quality, reduce vehicle and guideway cost, and simplify the control system. In applications where small vehicles can be deployed, the new invention may also eliminate the need for a secondary suspension to provide lateral damping. A secondary suspension adds weight and cost to the vehicle, and likely increases the vehicle's height and raises its center of gravity, all of which have negative consequences.

The new technology will be used on MagneMotion's current development project, which is a cooperative effort with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Old Dominion University (ODU). During Phase I, a 160-foot track will be constructed and tested at the company's headquarters in Devens, Mass. During Phase II, a 500-foot track will be built on an existing maglev guideway structure at ODU in Norfolk, Va. The company's design envisions maglev vehicles that are the size of vans or small busses and can accelerate quickly to about 100 miles per hour. The smaller-sized vehicles do not limit ridership; in fact, numerous vehicles in operation simultaneously (under constant, accurate control) could accommodate large ridership in specific applications. The maglev test system will be operational at MagneMotion's facility beginning in summer 2009. For more information, visit

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