Magnetic Levitation Project

Magnetic Levitation Definition

For designing a magnetic levitation project in class 12, you'd first need to understand the concept of maglev, otherwise known as the magnetic levitation. In the magnetic levitation device, we'll be designing a demo of the moving maglev train without wheels. The trains would hover on the tracks because of the magnetic levitation and would remain suspended in the air because of the magnetic field generated. For the train's movement, the generated magnetic field can pull on nearby magnets (based on their poles) and, thus, create a force that pushes the train.


What is Magnetic Levitation?

It's compelling and simple science that works to get objects levitated and known to humanity for more than a century. Here, an object that is suspended mid-air with no additional support except magnetic fields observes movement in them. The magnetic fields reverse or counteract the gravitational pull and other forces acting on the body. 


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As the magnetic fields begin interacting with the metallic loops of aluminum present in both ends of the concrete walls, it creates a magnetic field strong enough to push the train forward. Since the train gets pushed and causes movement, an electric current is generated and further triggers the creation of successive magnetic fields. 


It can be understood in three main principles:

  • Mag-lev Principle: These metallic loops or coils resemble figure 8, and as the superconducting magnets pass at high speeds, the coils generate an electric current. The forces acting on the superconductor magnet push it upwards in a robust and counteracting magnitude, thus levitating the train.

  • Lateral Guidance: As the running maglev system is displaced laterally, the loop generates a current that is present under the tracks. Thus, there is a creation of a repulsive force acting near the train's side, while there's an attractive force acting further apart from the train, causing it to maintain a central position. 

  • Electromagnetic Propulsion: The repulsive and attractive force pushes the train forwards. The coils present on both the sides of the walls act as propulsion coils, which are also charged by the three-phase alternating current. 


Materials Required 

For our magnetic levitation project, we need: 

  1. Magnetic tape with a width of 0.5 inches, and cut into two 24 inches units and two 5 inches units

  2. Two, Perpendicular plastic angle pieces - each 24 inches long and 3/4th inches wide

  3. A woodblock with the dimensions of 5 x 3/4 x 1 or 1/2 inches as length, breadth, and height respectively

  4. Either a flat piece of wood or corrugated cardboard -  24 inches long and 3 inches wide.

  5. Transparent, double-sided tape

  6. Scissors

  7. Plastic cup or paper

  8. Coins

  9. Ruler

  10. Kitchen scale for measuring

Please note that the materials' above dimensions would help you design the project according to the model we are using as a reference. You can also opt for different equipment sizes, but in that case, you'd require to adjust the spacing between the tracks and the other components of the project. 


Step-By-Step Procedure

  • Step I: Begin with peeling the paper off the short magnetic strips and attach them to one side of the wooden block aligned completely with its edges. This shall be the block of your train model. In case you don't have a magnetic strip with sticky ends, you can always stick it with transparent, double-sided tape. (Take reference from the figure below.)

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  • Step II: For the trained model base, you can shape a block of wood or cardboard in the dimensions of 24 inches length and 3 inches width.

  • Step III: With the long plastic angle, draw five lines on the base, as mentioned below:

Draw a centerline down the middle of the base.

Draw one line from 5mm distance on both sides of the centerline.

Draw one line from a 20mm distance on both sides of the centerline.

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  • Step IV: Once the lines are drawn, stick the long metallic strips and plastic angle pieces to the bases at aligned spaces, crucial for its working.

  1. First, place the long magnetic strips at least 10mm apart from each other in a way that their inside edges are aligned with the lines 5mm from the centerline.

  2. Using the double-sided tape, stick the plastic angle pieces in a way that their inside edges align with the lines 20mm from the centerline, and are at 40mm apart. 

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  • Step V: Now place your train block model on the track, and it should hover. You can also move it back and forth without any interruptions. 

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Data Collection

  • You can now collect crucial data for knowing how much weight your magnetic levitation project can handle. You'd require a table that shall record the mass and distance it travels. As a standard unit of measure, use grams for mass and distance in mm. 

  • The first recorded value should begin with no mass (or zero mass). Calculate the distance between the train and the track, taken from the top of the magnet strips on the track and the bottom of the magnet strips of the train model. 

  • Place a plastic cup with a few coins in it, and observe if the train model remains parallel to the tracks. If it gets tilted, you can always shift the plastic cup to balance the train.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. Why are Magnetic Levitation Trains Preferred Over Conventional Trains?

The magnetic levitation trains are frictionless, clean (no use of fossil fuels), and faster than conventional trains, because of its working principle. The magnets in maglev trains are superconducting and are cooled to 450°F, thus capable of generating magnetic fields up to 10x more durable than conventional electromagnets for pulling a train.

Q2. What are Electromagnets?

An electromagnet can be defined as temporary magnets running on electricity. Its magnetic capacity, as well as poles, can be reversed according to the flow of electricity. For example motors, generators, transformers, etc. In maglev trains, the levitation remains effective because of the electromagnetic propulsion where electromagnets can attract several metals and create a field.