Shanghai Express is a Magnetic Success

Have Magnets Will Travel
A magnetic levitation train, commonly called maglev, glides along a test rail in Shanghai, China. It can reach speeds of 250 m.p.h. while hovering a fraction of an inch above the track.

Freelance Writer

The first commercial application of a magnetically levitated, high-speed guide way for rapid transit is being hailed a success, Engineering News-Record (New York) reports.

The Shanghai Express Train between Shanghai and the new Pudong Airport transports passengers at speeds of up to 431 km/h. Trains are propelled by magnets in electromagnetic cables, which are attached to the brackets in the guide way.

The Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. Ltd. built the system for an estimated $1.2 billion US, using technology developed by the German firm Max Boegl.

Bun Checkers

There’s dough to be made in helping the food processing industry engineer better quality control for baked buns, Mechanical Engineering (New York) reports.

The food technology processing division of the Georgia Technology Research Institute and its School of Electrical and Computer Engineering are working with commercial bakeries on a new digital imaging food inspection system. The system’s two digital cameras take pictures of the buns as they pass on the production line, while proprietary software records their condition.

In the project’s second phase, feedback controls will correct upstream processes that lead to poor or inconsistent products, says research engineer Doug Britton.

Tagging Terrorists

The potential of glass microspheres to help trace terrorists is under investigation by ceramic engineer Delbert Day and mining engineer Paul Worsey of the University of Missouri-Rolla. The two are examining the chemical composition of the glass microspheres in explosives to see if they could become a “signature” that would provide the name of the manufacturing company, the plant location and the date of manufacture.

This information could assist law enforcement officials in tracing terrorists, reports Engineering & Mining Journal (Jacksonville, Fla.).

Bionic Bones Help Cancer Patients

Mechanical engineers are achieving success with an expandable, third-generation prosthesis that helps victims of a rare bone cancer disease, reports Mechanical Engineering (New York).

The new device, dubbed “the bionic bone,” adds four millimetres of painless growth to the legs of children affected by osteosarcoma. The bionic bone device lengthens legs without surgery by propelling a tiny implanted rotor in the bone at 3,000 revolutions per minute. The procedure is painless and can be repeated often to maintain growth.

In the past, victims had to undergo surgery several times to have prosthetic implants adjusted so that the affected legs would grow at the same rate as the healthy one.

The device, which took 11 years to develop, was a joint project between bioengineers at England’s University College London and orthopedic surgeons at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is finally getting some respect, according to Power Engineering (Tulsa, Okla.). Navigant Consulting says that renewable energy’s share of the world’s cumulative power capacity (excluding large hydroelectric generation) will grow at a compounded rate of 9.2 per cent between 2004 and 2013.

The rise represents an increase from three to six per cent worldwide, with installations in the United States expected to grow by 17 per cent by 2013.

Bridge Beautifies Scottish Skyline

A new pedestrian bridge over one of Edinburgh’s busiest thoroughfares is being hailed for its graceful and innovative design, reports Civil Engineering (Reston, Va.) reports.

The project owners, Coal Pension Properties, wanted a design that was expressive without obscuring views of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. The freestanding 50-metre Greenside Place Link Bridge over Leith Street accomplishes this by being constructed of interlocking circular hollow tubes of steel, which evoke the “helical” structure of DNA.

The project engineers, Buro Happold Engineers of London, had to allow for unique ground conditions at both ends because the bridge was built over an inactive geological fault.

A Robot Could Do It

The first robots to be employed at a main wastewater treatment plant in the United States are hard at work in Los Angeles County, according to Engineering News-Record (New York). The robots are being used to apply highly pressurized water to tunnel walls at the Joint Water Pollution Control Plant in Carson, Calif.

The robotic approach has increased quality and efficiency, says Jeff Jellick, project manager for the general contractor, J. F. Shea Construction Co.

Home | Past PEGGs | PEGG Search | Contact Us