Monday, November 26, 2007


Growing up, I was always enthralled by the perpetual motion machine paradox. It's one of those things that just nags at you, convincing you that there must be a way. In my mind I always envisioned a perpetual motion machine that was designed similar to a Christmas Carousel, except instead of powered by the heat from candles, powered by magnets below and on the turbine blades angled to repel. In actuality, this would not be considered a true perpetual motion machine, as the magnets create an electromagnetic field, which would be an external energy force powering the perpetual machine. Eventually, I figured this out and my dreams of winning the Nobel Prize in Physics was shattered. Yet, an article on Inhabitat reminded me of my childhood scheme.

The MagLev is a giant wind turbine suspended in air by magnets. The beauty of this design (okay, so its massive size probably bashes all hope of beauty) is that very little friction slows its spinning. Really, it is only susceptible to air drag, the same friction which causes it to move. Because of its low drag, it starts spinning at low wind speeds, it can withstand high wind speeds, it is very efficient for a wind turbine, and has very low maintenance costs. As a matter of fact, the company behind it claims that it should provide power at the cost of one cent per kilowatt hour. This is incredibly cheap, considering the average cost of coal energy per kilowatt hour is 1.75 cents [Source] (so widely used for energy because of its abundance and cheapness), and the average cost per kilowatt hour of modern wind turbines is around 5 cents [Source]. Another one of the huge benefits of the MagLev is that it takes up very little real estate compared to a wind farm of conventional wind turbines large enough to produce the same amount of power.

Although their cost is huge, $53 million, such a wonderful device could change the state of green energy. I would much rather look at one of these on the horizon than smog.

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