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Magnetic Levitation

Updated on June 19, 2012

Uses of magnetic Levitation

The generator and wind turbine of this vertical water driven electrical generator is suspended by magnetic levitation, which cuts down on internal friction. A wind generator cam be made along a similar design.
The generator and wind turbine of this vertical water driven electrical generator is suspended by magnetic levitation, which cuts down on internal friction. A wind generator cam be made along a similar design.
This is the basis for a superconducting electromagnet. Large scale designs are used to effect levitation.
This is the basis for a superconducting electromagnet. Large scale designs are used to effect levitation. | Source
The electromagnet shown here is the heart of one of the largest experimental superconducting magnets in experimental use.
The electromagnet shown here is the heart of one of the largest experimental superconducting magnets in experimental use. | Source
A superconducting electromagnet of this size is used at places like CERN and the LHC for particle physics experiments. These use copious amounts of power; enough to run an entire city.
A superconducting electromagnet of this size is used at places like CERN and the LHC for particle physics experiments. These use copious amounts of power; enough to run an entire city. | Source

Some ways to achieve levitation

The fundamental force of magnetism is some 10 to the 37th power stronger than the fundamental force of gravity. Thus, with a magnetic field of sufficient intensity, one should be able to negate the effect of of gravity in a local region and effect levitation. It follows that it may also be used to effect artificial gravity in a space ship environment. In fact. levitation has been done in many universities around the world for the last decade. It can be effected in several ways and some of it involves levitating objects we don't normally associate with magnetic interaction. These include, but are not limited to water and living animals.

The principle of magnetic levitation is based on the diamagnetic properties of hydrogen and as living bodies are mostly water and water is two parts hydrogen per molecule, this is the basic reason why magnetic levitation can work. This can be made to work even to the point of overcoming the paramagnetic properties of ferrous materials in living bodies such as in chloroplasts and hemoglobin used in photosynthesis and red blood cells respectively. As hydrogen is far more abundant, magnetic levitation can be used to levitate what is normally considered to be non magnetic materials. But the magnetic field required to cause this is necessarily intense in order to negate and overcome the local gravitational field. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, that is, by using superconducting and chilled permanent magnets and by building large sized electromagnets. The latter is used to create a solenoid in which living animals and water can be levitated, or, more accurately, to be suspended within a magnetic field within the gravitational field. The field strength required to do this with water drops and small animals like mice and frogs typically is measured at 16 Teslas. It requires a lot of power to generate this kind of field strength. To levitate something the size of a human being requires far more input.


There is another way to levitate materials in a magnetic field by employing the use of gyroscopic stability. This is one of the ideas behind the levitating toy called the Levitron. In this case, a much weaker electromagnetic or permanent magnetic field acts as the base in which the spinning magnetic toy levitates. The gyroscopic stability is used to keep two like poles oriented facing one another and creating the repulsion necessary to effect magnetic levitation. For magnetically levitated flying saucers, this is based on part on this as some have been seen spinning in whole or in part. The region of stability in this configuration is very narrow, so stability is crucial. To effect this only using the earth's magnetic field, also requires strong local spacecraft fields and a stable geomagnetic field, which of course, during a magnetic flip within the earth, is not the current case.


In yet another example, magnetic levitation is effected by a chilled superconductor and a rare earth super magnet. The superconductor itself is not magnetic, but when chilled to near absolute zero, becomes what can be called a magnetic mirror. The magnet induces the reflecting field in the superconductor and this is what creates the conditions for levitation. This is what is referred to as the Meisner effect. Recently, with advances in superconductors, the necessity for being close to absolute zero has been reduced. Researchers are hoping to find the right combination of materials to create a room temperature superconductor.


Uses for magnetic levitation include the development and use of magnetic bearings. The super powerful permanent magnets being manufactured today make the idea of large scale magnetic bearing feasible for large scale vertically mounted wind powered generators. The bearings eliminate surface friction that is common with ball bearings and bushings. Efficiency for the generation of power is substantially increased. The need for lubricants is eliminated. For the current period, this appears to be the best application for magnetic levitation.

Superconducting Magnetic levitation

diamagnetic levitation

More information on magnetic levitation and experimental resources

Dowling Magnets Magnet Levitation Kit
Dowling Magnets Magnet Levitation Kit

Though not the famed Levitron, this kit explores the various ways that magnetic levitation can be achieved by ordinary means. This is a fun explorer kit for anyone who is interested in learning about the mysterious magnetic force.

 
Toysmith Magnetic Levitator (5-Inch)
Toysmith Magnetic Levitator (5-Inch)

Though not a levitron as such, this unique and inexpensive device can show the principles of a magnetic bearing that is far superior to the standard bushing and ball bearing bearing in common use today. Though essentially a toy, this is by far not the only application for this type of bearing.

 
Rising Force: The Magic of Magnetic Levitation
Rising Force: The Magic of Magnetic Levitation

this book covers the arts and science of achieving levitation by magnetism. Various ways of achieving magnetic levitation are explored and the physics behind the various methods.

 
Levitron Ultimate
Levitron Ultimate

The famous levitron demonstrates that true magnetic levitation can be achieved. The important lesson here is that a spinning magnet is capable of essentially defying gravity in a stable magnetic field.

 
Superconducting Levitation: Applications to Bearing and Magnetic Transportation
Superconducting Levitation: Applications to Bearing and Magnetic Transportation

Superconducting magnets and magnetic reflectors are the stuff of the future and the "holy grail" of such concepts. There is a search on for superconducting magnets that will operate at "room temperature".

 

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    • lightning john profile image

      lightning john 6 years ago from Florida

      Very well written! The illustrations are excellent. Is this the same technology or idea for high speed light rail? Where the rail is magnetic?

    • Manna in the wild profile image

      Manna in the wild 6 years ago from Australia

      Interesting points although I think the sheer power required to levitate reasonably sized objects is not tenable.

      I could not understand this sentence: "For magnetically levitated flying saucers, this is based on part on this as some have been seen spinning in whole or in part."

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Very interesting. I suspect, now that the principal is understood, it wont be too long until the process becomes a lot cheaper and more commonly used.

      I bet that poor frog felt sick afterwards.

    • syzygyastro profile image
      Author

      William J. Prest 6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      Lightning John:

      Maglev trains work in a similar fashion using the diamagnetic properties of aluminum.

      Manna in the Wild

      Powering a flying saucer by various means is covered in the following hub:

      https://hubpages.com/technology/Powering-a-Flying-

      The essence of this kind of levitation is based on gyroscopic stability. Thus, at least part of the craft has to rotate to generate the gyroscopic stability. I will be adding some reference links.

      christopherantonL

      Research is being done in this area to improve magnets. Just a decade ago, we didn't have the rare earth magnets that are small and powerful, that we have now to effectively power electric cars and bikes. My experience has found that the new electric vehicles are not wimps like in the past. As for the frog; I think you are right!

    • profile image

      magnetgenerator 5 years ago

      There is a website that compare 2 magnetic generators, you should check http://topmagneticgenerator.com

    • profile image

      Jackson Solutions 5 years ago

    • rickzepeda profile image

      rickzepeda 4 years ago

      The Meissner effect is what is happening during quantum levitation or quantum locking. This is really fascinating stuff I like to keep up with this subject and look for experiments and videos in the field.

    • syzygyastro profile image
      Author

      William J. Prest 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      There are three perpendicular forces involved; the electromotive, the magnetic and the Lorentz field. The third is seldom mentioned in the texts, but by rotating an electromagnetic field, it comes into play. This is one of the alleged forces at play in magnetic levitation. This can be seen in action in the simple toy called the Levitron.

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