Invest in Sustainable Infrastructure: Magnetic Levitation for Greener Logistics Practices

Magnetic levitation (Maglev) is a highly efficient, fast and secure way to move people and cargo. It is possible to move shipping containers on a maglev track using skids. But before we go into that, let’s first talk about magnetic levitation and the benefits of moving goods with Maglev.

What is magnetic levitation?

Magnetic levitation, often called maglev, is a technology that uses magnetic fields to suspend objects, such as trains or skids that carry goods, in mid-air without any physical contact. It relies on the principles of magnetic repulsion and attraction to counteract the force of gravity and achieve levitation.

Maglev transportation systems typically have two main components: a guideway or track and a levitating vehicle or skid. The guideway contains an array of magnets, typically superconducting electromagnets or permanent magnets, which create a magnetic field. The levitating vehicle, equipped with magnets of opposite polarity, generates a repulsive force that counterbalances gravity, allowing it to float above the track. Varying the power of the magnetic field in the front or the back of the vehicle can make it move.

Why is magnetic levitation so sustainable?

Magnetic levitation is a very sustainable transportation method. Think about a shipping container on a skid moving along a maglev track.

Energy efficiency – no physical contact exists between the track and the skid. That means there is no friction and, thus, no loss of speed or energy. This is very different from rail or road, where there is a lot of friction. This means that maglev skids require less energy to maintain speed, resulting in lower energy consumption per unit of distance travelled.

Reduced emissions – because maglev systems operate on electricity, you can use renewable energy sources, like solar, wind, or hydroelectric power. There is no need for fossil fuels. Also, maglev vehicles have no engines with internal combustion engines, so they produce no direct emissions. This reduces reliance on fossil fuels and helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment. 

Smooth and comfortable rides – because there is no friction and no contact between the skid and the guide rail, there are no bumps, vibrations, and jolts associated with wheels on rails or uneven road surfaces, which reduces potential damage to cargo.

Noise reduction – The absence of physical contact between the train and the track eliminates the noise generated by friction. This creates a healthier working environment for people working around the maglev system.

Reduced maintenance – Maglev systems generally require less maintenance than traditional transportation methods. Since there is no physical contact between the skids and the track, the infrastructure has less wear and tear, reducing the need for frequent repairs and replacements. This saves costs and reduces the consumption of materials and resources required for maintenance activities.

The basis for sustainable logistics practices

Magnetic levitation is a highly efficient and sustainable way to transport materials. We see it as the perfect solution for shipping containers. We will use it to transport containers between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Our shipping solution creates a zero-emission and fast alternative to the Panama Canal for shipping containers. Two automated ports on Northern Colombia’s Atlantic and Pacific coast will be connected via an eighty-mile tunnel. Through that tunnel, we will run maglev tracks to move containers from coast to coast. Because of the speeds and efficiency of our automated docks and maglev tracks, we can unload a container on one coast and load it again on the other coast within an hour. Both the ports and the maglev system are powered by renewable energy.

The Panama Canal operates at full capacity, with a waiting time of up to 10 days. Our alternative container shipping solutions will create more capacity in the Canal for bulk carriers and tankers. Our solution will also create two cross-docking hubs to redistribute containers across the region and the rest of the world while simultaneously bringing down the carbon footprint of container shipping.

Ocean freight is responsible for three per cent of all carbon emissions. Help us increase the efficiency of global shipping while bringing that number down.

About the author:

Martijn Graat

Martijn is Zergratran’s Head of Content. He writes about the latest trends and innovations in logistics and anything related to Zergratran