Electromagnetic Induction Launchers

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Driga, M. D.
Weldon, W. F.
Woodson, H. H.

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The electromagnetic launcher consists of a system of stator coils producing a traveling field which accelerates an armature carrying currents induced by the traveling field (induction accelerator [1,2]) or persistent currents supplied from otner sources (synchronous accelerator [2,10]). The fact that their armature has no electrical contact with the stator, essentially riding on the crest of a traveling magnetic wave, makes induction accelerators very attractive for a large number of applications. This paper is devoted exclusively to the accelerator of the induction type. Efficiency considerations require that the traveling wave should accelerate at approximately the same rate as the projectile. This can be achieved either using variable (increasing) winding pitch or a continuously increasing power supply frequency or a combination of both. A new dimension was added to the induction coaxial accelerator technology with the definition at the Center for Electromechanics at The University of Texas at Austin (CEM-UT) of a new electrical machine, the Rising Frequency Generator (RFG) representing a more attractive integrated power source for induction accelerators which had previously been forced to conform to constant frequency power supplies. This paper outlines the principles of design and shows two applications of induction coaxial launchers; a half-scale aircraft launcher in which the system also acts as an electromagnetic brake, stopping the shuttle and driving it in the opposite direction, and a high performance, 18-m long launcher capable of accelerating a 1-kg aluminum projectile to a velocity of 10 km/s at an average acceleration of 250,000 G.


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M.D. Driga, W.F. Weldon, and H.H. Woodson, “Electromagnetic induction launchers,” IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, vol. Mag-22, no. 6, November 1986, pp. 1453-1458.