1995-08-01

Northrop Grumman Maglev Research and Status 951918

In 1988 Senator Moynihan proposed the introduction of a bill to fund Maglev R&D as part of his subcommittee on Infrastructure of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The experts that testified at this hearing formed a committee that prepared a report (the Maglev Technology Advisory Committee - MTAC report) that was published in 1990. The publication of the MTAC report was the first corporate commitment that the Grumman Corporation made to Maglev. Over the next four years, the goal of making a viable Maglev system was pursued by Grumman. This commitment was not matched by the Federal government. Despite the passage of a Maglev prototype development authorization (as part of the ISTEA bill) by the Congress in 1991, no money was ever appropriated for this project. As a consequence of the lack of commitment of federal funding, Grumman (now Northrop Grumman) was forced to stop working on Maglev. This paper describes the state of the work that was performed, and how far technically the Grumman design evolved. The most exciting aspect of this design was the testing of a high temperature superconducting magnet operating at the temperature of liquid Nitrogen (77 Kelvin). This magnet was built for Grumman by American Superconductor Corporation of Westborough Massachusetts. The successful testing of this high Tc magnet means that the goal of building a simple, inexpensive, and high lift iron core superconducting magnets that will operate with a 2 inch air gap is no longer a far off possibility - it can be done right now. This technological breakthrough offers the potential first application of high Tc superconductors.

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