US 20060219124 A1
A rail system may include a rail buoyant in a fluid, and a vehicle buoyant in the fluid. The vehicle may be electromagnetically and/or mechanically coupled to the rail for movement along the rail.
1. A rail system comprising:
a rail buoyant in a fluid; and
a vehicle buoyant in the fluid;
the vehicle electromagnetically coupled to the rail for movement along the rail.
2. The rail system according to
electromagnetic reaction elements imbedded in the rail; and
primary coils provided on the vehicle.
3. The rail system according to
4. The rail system according to
5. The rail system according to
6. The rail system according to
7. The rail system according to
8. The rail system according to
9. The rail system according to
wheels provided on the vehicle to support the vehicle on land.
10. The rail system according to
11. The rail system according to
12. A rail comprising:
a substrate; and
a plurality of spaced apart electromagnetic elements imbedded in the substrate;
wherein the substrate is fabricated from a material with a density sufficient to give the rail buoyancy in a fluid.
13. The rail according to
14. The rail according to
15. The rail according to
16. The rail according to
a reinforcing member imbedded in the substrate.
17. The rail according to
18. The rail according to
spacers interposed between the electromagnetic elements.
19. The rail according to
a tether securing the rail to land underneath a body of water.
20. A conveying system comprising:
a buoyant guide; and
a buoyant vehicle coupled to the floating guide;
wherein the buoyant guide and the buoyant vehicle cooperate to convey the buoyant vehicle.
This U.S. non-provisional application claims priority under 35 USC §119 to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/666,588 filed Mar. 31, 2005, the content of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.
A linear motor is analogous to a conventional rotary electric motor that has been sliced open and rolled out flat. In a linear motor, a magnetic field generated by either the rotor or stator is used to produce linear motion.
Many concepts for one type of linear motor technology called a linear induction motor (LIM) have been proposed over the years for ground transportation systems. High-speed trains propelled, not by their wheels, but by a LIM have been built and tested to achieve speeds of 250 mph. In another familiar example, the MAGLEV Train system operates at speeds over 300 mph and has no wheels at all, pulling itself along the unpowered track by magnetic induction fields. In addition to high-speed trains, many applications of linear motor technologies can be found in low-speed logistics transport systems. For example, transport systems found in hospitals, factories, and warehouses typically consist of a powered conveyor (stator) that generates magnetic fields in synchrony (synchronous linear motor) with the fields in the track to produce motion in its conveying carts. Although such applications of linear motor technology are generally thought to provide acceptable performance, they are not without shortcomings.
Linear motor technology works best when the gap between the motor poles and the reaction rail is small. To this end, conventional LIMs are tethered to massive guideways that are braced to the ground or ground-based elevated structures for the purpose of reducing vibration in the track, which leads to variation in the gap. A linear synchronous motor (LSM), which is another type of induction motor for propulsion, uses a similar guideway structure. Precise gap tolerance between the rotor and the stator elements is achieved during linear motor operation by reducing the vertical forces of the vehicle in motion on the braced track. Even in current marine applications, such as amusement rides and ferries (for example), including vehicles that ride on the water's surface and vehicles that penetrate it to go below the surface, existing LIMs and LSMs are supported by guideway structures on the ground beneath the water.
The guideway structure needed to minimize the gap for linear motor transport systems limits its usefulness to a predetermined and fixed path. In addition, the guideway structure is expensive in terms of both its construction and maintenance costs.
According to an example, non-limiting embodiment, a rail system may include a rail buoyant in a fluid and a vehicle buoyant in the fluid. The vehicle may be electromagnetically coupled to the rail for movement along the rail.
According to another example, non-limiting embodiment, a rail may include a substrate. A plurality of spaced apart electromagnetic elements may be imbedded in the substrate. The substrate may be fabricated from a material with a density sufficient to give the rail buoyancy in a fluid.
According to another example, non-limiting embodiment a conveying system may include a buoyant guide. A buoyant vehicle may be coupled to the floating guide. The buoyant guide and the buoyant vehicle may cooperate to convey the buoyant vehicle.
The above and other features of the invention including various and novel details of construction and combinations of parts will now be more particularly described with references to the accompanying drawings. It will be understood that the particular rail system embodying the invention is shown by way of illustration only and not as a limitation of the invention. The principles and features of this invention may be employed in varied and numerous embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention.
In example, non-limiting embodiments of the invention shown in
I. A Track, Round in Cross-Section—FIGS. 1-6:
A buoyant track 1 includes a substrate 12 imbedded with electromagnet elements, such as permanent magnets 11, for example. The substrate 12 may be fabricated from a plastic material and/or a composite material. The cross-sectional profile of the track 1 is round with symmetry about its axis as shown in
The substrate 12 may be fabricated from a material that is buoyant in water. The density of the substrate 12 material is sufficiently lower than that of water to compensate for the weight of electromagnetic elements (such as the magnets 11, for example) and reinforcing elements (such as the reinforcing fibers 10, for example) imbedded within it. The track 1 may also include spacers (not shown) provided between the electromagnetic elements. The spacers (not shown) and the magnets 11 may be fixed to the reinforcing fibers 10 to provide a sub-assembly that may have a cylindrical shape. The material of the substrate 12 may then be provided on the cylindrical sub-assembly by conventional extrusion techniques.
The magnets 11 imbedded within the track 1 are held in position relative to one another by the spacers 10, which are also imbedded in the substrate 12. In an alternate embodiment, the spacers 10 may be modified to accommodate coils, solenoids and/or conductive plates that function similarly. In the disclosed example embodiments, the track 1 is a passive element to the extent that it is un-powered. Here, the internal elements of the track 1 act as reaction plates for the overall synchronous motor system. In alternative embodiments, powered primary electromagnets and/or powered coils (for example) for a LIM system may be included in the track 1.
The rail-riding vehicles 2 complement the buoyant track 1 in a geometric fashion in two ways. First the cross-sectional geometry of the vehicle hull 18, which is that portion of the rail-riding vehicle 2 in potential contact with the water when in the marine environment, corresponds to the cross-sectional geometry of the track 1. Second, the positioning of the primary coils 3, 4, & 5 (see
In this example embodiment, the hull 18 includes a cavity that is round in cross section. Positioning of the cavity is such that the gap between the track 1 and the hull 18 does not vary significantly as the system transitions from operating in water as shown in
The primary coils 3, 4, & 5 of the linear synchronous motor shown in
To ride on the track 1, a rail-riding vehicle energizes each of its solenoids at timings to develop forces of attraction and repulsion. A solenoid firing sequence may be implemented with either AC (by controlling the frequency) or DC (by switching the current) power. The firing sequence may be used to propel the rail-riding vehicle 2 along the track 1. An example firing sequence is depicted in
An example, non-limiting operational concept for the buoyant marine rail system is depicted in
Given that the buoyant track 1 is statically neutral without need for a guideway structure (which is typical of conventional linear motors), it is mobile and can be moved into position on demand. At the interface between the water and the land, commonly known as the beach 15, the support for the weight of the track 1 is transitioned from the water to the ground as shown in
The rail-riding vehicles 2 & 18 include wheels 19 that are positioned such that the track 1 is in the same relative position with regard to the underside of the vehicle 2 & 18 when the vehicle 2 & 18 is on land 24 or in the water 20.
The gap 23 between the magnet 11 in the track 1 and the primary coil 3 in the rail-riding vehicle 2 & 18 is at least as thick as the substrate 12 provided on the magnet 11.
In this example embodiment, the rail riding vehicle 2 and the hull 18 are fixed together as an integral unit. In an alternative embodiment, as shown in
II. A Track, U-Shaped in Cross-Section—FIGS. 7-9:
The following example, non-limiting embodiment is somewhat similar to the previous embodiment. However, as will be discussed in the following paragraphs, there are some notable differences including the shape of the track 25, the corresponding shape of the rail-riding vehicle 26, the TEU racks 27, and implications of a transverse orientation for imbedded coils 31 in the track 25 and corresponding transversely oriented primary coils 30 in the rail-riding vehicle 26.
With reference to
By allowing shipping containers 13 of various load-out weights to float independently at different drafts as shown in
With reference to
In the example, non-limiting embodiment depicted in
The linear motor according to example, non-limiting embodiments of the present invention provides (for example) improved flexibility, cost, and mobility to linear motor technology. The disclosed buoyant marine rail system provides a novel mode of transporting various logistics payloads to or from a base at sea, across the beach, over land, and to a base on land. In its most elemental form, the disclosed buoyant marine rail system may substitute for steering mechanisms needed to steer self-propelled vehicles. Moreover, example, non-limiting embodiments of the present invention introduce a novel approach to levitation of the various components of a LIM or LSM via relative buoyancy while in the marine environment, which reduces (and may altogether eliminate) the need for a guideway structure.
Various and novel details of construction and combinations of parts have been described with reference to the accompanying drawings. It will be understood that the particular buoyant marine rail system embodying the invention is shown by way of illustration only and not as a limitation of the invention. The principles and features of this invention may be employed in varied and numerous embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention.
For example, in the disclosed embodiments, the rail is passive (or unpowered) and the vehicle is active (or powered). In alternative embodiments, the rail may be active and the vehicle may be inactive. Also, as shown in