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Chinese coal will travel by maglev

19 May, 2009

China is installing two prototype magnetically levitated (maglev) systems for transporting coal in Inner Mongolia in an attempt to increase transport speeds and efficiencies, and to reduce pollution.

The first system is being co-developed by the Chinese motor manufacturer Harbin Electric and a domestic Maglev (magnetic levitation) technology specialist. The first phase of the project – to build a 850m-long linear motor-driven freight test track at a coal mine – is already underway.

Once the test track has been validated, the project is expected to expand to a 32km-long coal transportation line in Inner Mongolia, with Harbin providing the linear motor drive systems. For the test track, it is delivering five linear motors to be integrated into the train, and an 850m length of secondary components, due to be installed by the end of this month.

“I am very excited about this project,” says Harbin’s chairman and CEO, Tianfu Yang. “Not only because it is the first of its kind in the mining industry and in the electric motor industry in China, but also because it opens a new market potential for us and we believe that the potential is substantial.

“Linear motor technology can be customised for fast, safe, clean, efficient, unmanned, and low-cost freight transportation,” he adds.

The second maglev system is being developed by a joint venture between US-based Magplane Technology, and Chinese partners. This will use a tubular maglev system called MagPipes to move coal from Mongolian mines. A 32-acre (12.9ha) facility (shown above) is being built at Baotou in Inner Mongolia, which will be able to build up 200km of MagPipes a year. Production of components has been sub-contracted to Chinese suppliers.

China is heavily dependent on coal for energy, However, the lack of efficient methods for transporting coal from mines to ports, power plants and freight hubs, has been driving up the price of coal. The Chinese government sees efficient, automated transportation systems at coal mines as being a way to control these costs.




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