China, Japan co-developing an ‘aerotrain’ with wings

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An artist's impression of the aerotrain with wings. Photo: Chongqing University of Technology

A high-speed aerotrain that can travel at 400 to 500 kilometers per hour is being developed by a team of Chinese and Japanese engineers.

Lai Chenguang, an aerodynamics professor at the Chongqing University of Technology and one of the participating Chinese experts, told Chongqing media that manufacturing and test runs of the first and second generations of the novel aerotrain had already been conducted in wind tunnels in Japan.

The aerotrain does not run on traditional fuel but can be powered by solar energy and wind power with pneumatic motors.

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A conceptual rendering of the aerotrain. Photo: Chongqing University of Technology

“When the train cruises at its optimal speed of 500 km/h, the energy it consumes is roughly one third of that of current high-speed trains in commercial service and one sixth of the maglev trains,” according to Lai.

The new design of an annular spoiler is one of the highlights of the novel aerotrain. Different from the traditional, vertical spoilers which tend to produce unstable airflow, the annular spoiler can increase the lift-drag ratio by 30% to 40%.

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Professor Lai Chenguang. Photo: Chongqing University of Technology

These annular wings are fitted onto the carriage body to make the train float above the track while in motion, and the new design of the spoilers also reduces the space of the enclosed track area, according to the Chongqing Morning Post.

The train will be made from magnesium alloy which can generate electric currents through air friction and the electricity can be harnessed to charge batteries.

In addition, the load capacity of the train will also be enhanced thanks to the new design.

Based on aerodynamic studies, Chongqing University of Technology has furthered the research and has since made a third generation model of the train “LOOP.”

Japan aims to inaugurate its first 400 km/h floating train service between Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports by 2025, and possibly another line between Tokyo and Osaka in the future.

 

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