Potential Benefits of Superconductivity to Transportation in the United States
Research in U.S. transportation applications of superconductors is strongly motivated by a number of potential national benefits. These include the reduction of dependence on petroleum-based fuels, energy savings, substantially reduced air and noise pollution, increased customer convenience, and reduced maintenance costs. Current transportation technology offers little flexibility to switch to alternative fuels, and efforts to achieve the other benefits are confounded by growing congestion at airports and on urban roadways. A program has been undertaken to identify possible applications of the emerging superconducting applications to transportation and to evaluate potential national benefits. The current phase of the program will select the most promising applications for a more detailed subsequent study. Transportation modes being examined include highway and industrial vehicles, as well as rail, sea, and air transport and pipelines. Three strategies are being considered: (1) replacing present components with those employing superconductors, (2) substituting new combinations of components or systems for present systems, and (3) developing completely new technologies. Distinctions are made between low-, medium-, and near-room-temperature superconductors. The most promising applications include magnetically levitated passenger and freight vehicles; replacement of drive systems in locomotives, self-propelled rail cars, and ships; and electric vehicles inductively coupled to electrified roadways.
KeywordsElectric Vehicle Argonne National Laboratory Transportation Mode Auxiliary Equipment Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage
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