Japanese engineers have developed a new type of transport that runs on gravity power. Engineers decided to use the idea inherent in roller coasters – a train car with passengers accelerating downhill and gathering energy for the next rise. These trains will have no engines and transmissions, which will greatly reduce their weight.
Japan has rather complex terrain, and is experiencing a significant power shortage, especially after the government decided to phase out the use of nuclear power plants. The combination of these two factors prompted a group of designers working under the guidance of the Mr. Yoshihiro Suda with the Institute of Industrial Research, University of Tokyo, to develop a commuter train that would be moved by the force of gravity (and weight of passengers). The new development will be cost-effective and fast.
When developing a new miracle of transportation, the engineers decided to use the roller coaster principle. They thought that if they build such a “rolling” road, it can move train cars that will not need an engine because the weight of the cabin with passengers will make them move to the next station
The train will be lifted by an automatic lift every 10 meters. After that it can run 400 meters, using only the force of gravity. The speed of the descent should reach around 60 kilometers per hour. Of course, for the fans of extreme attractions this speed would seem snail-pace-like as the steepest roller coaster carts can reach the speed of 200 kilometers per hour.
However, the engineers did not need such speed. When moving downhill at the speed of 200 kilometers per hour, it will not go that far because after exceeding the speed limit of 60 kilometers per hour the train rails friction increases in an avalanche-like fashion. At a roller coaster this problem is solved, because the trailer is moved by an electric motor, but the design of the Japanese engineers suggests that there is no engine in their train. The only energy it will need would be for driving the lift.
However, that amount of energy will not be particularly significant. The lack of motor and transmission not only dramatically reduces the cost of this form of transport, but also reduces the weight of a car. Roughly speaking, the train does not need to expend energy to carry itself. Lifting this light car will be very easy.
According to the inventors’ calculations, with a load of 50 percent of the maximum, the power expenditure per passenger kilometer will be equal to 226.8 kJ. This is three times lower than that of a bus in the steady state, and two times less than that of a conventional train. In addition, construction of these vehicles will not require purchase of land and will reduce road network because the tracks can be routed over highways, and partially pedestrian sidewalks. Head of the project believes that this might be the most energy-efficient transport system.