De-Inventing the Wheel
Oscar Zingle
Sir William Osler Elementary
Floor Location : J 156 N

Trains have always been an important mode of transport to humans. They started out powered by only steam, but then engineers found ways to use diesel to power trains, making them more useful. However, through the evolution of trains, wheels have always been used to move - a huge stumbling block in terms of speed and efficiency - until the birth of maglevs, trains that float on magnetic force, travelling at 600 km/h and above. They offer near frictionless travel, and can function for 50 years without any maintenance. Why do maglevs matter? They are one of the fastest possible ways to travel, and floating in midair with electromagnets enables the train to have no moving parts in the propulsion mechanism. With this technology, the world could be connected even better, and without the cost and emissions of planes. Taking a maglev to one side of the world from another could be a reality, if only they cost less. The German Transrapid system’s track cost USD $43 600 000 per kilometer, and the whole track cost USD 1 329 800 000, more than 1.5 billion dollars Canadian.

This study and innovation is devoted to finding a cheaper way to build maglev systems. Using inexpensive items, a reprogrammable model that could be easily upgraded was constructed to show the use of low-cost electronics to stabilize maglevs safely. The electromagnets were also moved to the train, to allow for the tracks to be more economically viable, using only metal to allow the train to float. Another innovation was the use of switch tracks, allowing a train to travel multiple routes instead of the current situation, which forces trains to use only one route. Some day, maglevs may be common in urban areas and rural areas too, cutting commuting time and allowing for more productivity during the day.