The Effect of Number of Stages, Steel Balls, and Distance between Stages on the Final Velocity of a Magnetic Linear Accelerator

It takes the same amount of electricity to run the New York City sub way system as to light the entire city of Buffalo New York for a year (Pirmann). This is mainly due to the electricity required to start up the cars and keep them going. Magnetic linear accelerators, at a large scale, could be used to launch the cars and keep them moving using a magnetic track. It would minimize the use of electricity and replace the system with a cheaper, reusable source of energy to launch the cars. The purpose of this experiment was to test the effect of the number of stages, steel balls, and distance between stages on the final velocity on a magnetic linear accelerator. To test this, combinations of 2, 3, or 4 stages with 2, 3, or 4 steel balls after each stage, and 20, 27, or 34 centimeter distance between each stage, were randomly selected and attached to a track. The track was then placed to face a foam pad, where a constant initial velocity was used to start the system. Vernier photogates and a LabQuest were attached to the end of the track to find the final velocity. A 3-factor Design of Experiment (DOE) was used to analyze the results. The results of this analysis indicated that the effect of number of stages, effect of number of steel balls, and the effect of distance between stages were all significant. This means that these were the effects that noticeably impacted the final velocity produced by the magnetic linear accelerator. The combination from this experiment that generated the highest final velocity was 4 stages with 4 steel balls after each stage that were at a distance of 20 centimeters. The combination that produced the lowest final velocity was 2 stages with 2 steel balls after each stage at 34 centimeters apart.

Research Conducted By:

Michael McMain
Cousino High School

Megan Richards
Cousino High School