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What is Magnetic Levitation?

Magnetic levitation is a method where magnetic fields are used to suspend an object. It is also know as magnetic suspension. Magnetic force is used to prevent the effects of gravitational force or any other accelerations.

The suspension of an object above or below another object with magnetic attraction or repletion is Magnetic levitation. It is also denoted as Maglev.

There are two issues obtained in magnetic levitation

  1. Lifting forces
  2. Stability

With maglev, a vehicle travels along a guideway using magnets to create both lift and propulsion, thereby reducing friction by a great extent and allowing very high speeds. 

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Magnetic levitation in trains

Magnetic levitation is used in maglev trains. The trains float on a guide-way using the principle of magnetic repulsion.

Maglev system train transportation uses two sets of magnets: one set to repel and push the train up off the track, and another set to move the elevated train ahead.

Maglev is used in high-speed rail and airplanes.

With maglev technology, there is just one moving part: the train itself. The train travels along a guideway of magnets which control the train’s stability and speed.

  • Maglev trains are smoother than conventional trains and have higher speeds.
  • Magnetic levitation trains can accelerate and decelerate much faster than conventional trains.
  • Maglev transport systems are now operational in three countries Japan, South Korea and China. It is safe and efficient way to travel.
  • Since there is no friction these train can reach high speeds. It’s top speed with people aboard is 350 mph.
  • The highest recorded speed of maglev train is 603 km/hr achieved in Japan.

Lateral Guidance

The super conducting magnet induces repulsive/ attractive forces keeping the train in center of the guideway. The passing of superconducting magnets by levitation coils on side of track induces a current in the coils and create a magnetic field. This pushes the train upwards and so it can levitate 1 to 7 inches above the tract. The train does not levitate until it reaches 50 mphs. So it is equipped with retractable wheels.

When one side of the train nears the side of the guideway the super conducting magnet on the train induces a repulsive force from the levitation coils on side closer to the train and an attractive force from the coils on the further side. This keeps the train in center of the guideway.

Uses of Magnetic levitation

  • The well known use of magnetic levitation is high speed trains.
  • It is also used in magnetic bearing and contact less melting. However it is also used for other purposes but these are the well known uses.
  • NASA plans to use magnetic levitation in launching space vehicles.
  • Mining industry also uses maglev.
  • And recently it is also used in microbotics.

Hyperloop system in Maglev

Hyperloop is a mode of transportation dreamed up with maglev trains running in near vacuum tunnels. It is high-speed transportation of goods in tubes. Hyperloop is using a passive magnetic levitation system where pod-side permanent magnets repel a passive track, with the only input energy coming from the speed of the pod.
The amount of electricity used is less however the speed is high. The infrastructure of hyperloop is costly to implement.


Although installation is costlier, this system can be implemented considering the facts like energy consumption, pollution and safety. There is a lot of scope in future for the technology in implementing and development.

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