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Add 'wings' to bullet trains to make them even faster
Published on: 2021-11-24
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China wants even faster bullet trains, and a team of scientists in the southwest of the country have suggested a way to do it: add wings.
 

Their study found that adding five pairs of small wings on each train carriage would generate additional lift and reduce the weight of the train by nearly a third, taking the top speed to 450km/h.
 

The research is part of a project launched by China earlier this year named CR450. The programme is a nationwide research effort which aims to develop a new generation of high-speed trains by solving a range of technical issues related to automatic control, wheel design, the steering system, rail upgrades and safety measures.
 

China’s high-speed rail network is currently the fastest in the world – its existing bullet trains can run at 350km/h. The CR450 project aims to have trains that run nearly 30 per cent faster, meaning it would take only about three hours to travel from Beijing to Shanghai, or just five hours from Beijing to Guangzhou.
 

But “as the operating speed increases, the wear on the wheels will increase and inevitably shorten the repair cycle and service life of the wheels”, according to a paper by the team from the Chengdu Fluid Dynamics Innovation Centre, led by research engineer Zhang Jun.
 

Zhang and his team have proposed putting an array of small wings on top of a train could generate sufficient force to lift it without the risk of hitting anything. But they cautioned that the wings would need to be carefully designed and installed.
 

Travelling at 450km/h, the train’s body would produce a high-speed airstream near the surface of the roof that could cause harmful turbulence if the wings were sitting too low, according to the paper.
 

And if a wing was too high above the train, it could run into currents generated by the wings in front and produce more drag than lift. The researchers estimated that the optimal range was for the wings to extend between 1.5 and 2 metres over the roof.
 

高铁还不够快?科学家想给高铁加“翅膀”,时速达450公里

中国想要更快的高速动车组,西南地区的一组科学家提出了一种方法:增加机翼。
 

他们的研究发现,在每个车厢上增加5对小机翼,可以产生额外的升力,并将列车的重量减少近三分之一,最高时速可达450公里/小时。该项研究是今年早些时候启动的CR450项目的一部分,旨在开发能够以该速度运行的新一代高速列车。
 

中国目前拥有世界上最快的高铁网络,现有的子弹头列车可以以350公里/小时的速度运行。CR450项目的目标是使列车运行速度提高近30%,这意味着从北京到上海只需约3小时,从北京到广州只需5小时。
 

成都流体动力学创新中心研究工程师张军领导的团队在一篇论文中写道:“随着运行速度的增加,车轮的磨损会增加,不可避免地会缩短车轮的维修周期和使用寿命。带升力翼的高速列车突破了高速列车空气动力学设计的传统概念,降低了总体能耗和运营成本。”
 

在高速列车上安装机翼的想法其实并不新鲜,日本工程师在20世纪80年代就提出了一项建议,要求列车两侧伸出类似飞机的机翼,并在20年后建造了原型。虽然这一早期的尝试证明了机翼具有空气动力效率,但在实际应用中失败了,因为机翼太大太宽,使得列车无法在现有铁路基础设施的有限空间内安全运行。
 

张和他的团队提出了一些不同的建议。他们说,在列车两侧放置一对巨大的机翼,而在列车顶部放置一组较小的机翼,可以产生足够的力量将列车抬起,并且不会有撞击任何物体的风险。
 

上海同济大学的研究工程师陈宇表示,在列车上安装机翼还需要克服一些极具挑战性的工程问题。例如,机翼必然会增加机舱的噪音,降低乘客的舒适度。这意味着科学家和工程师必须想出办法来控制屋顶上复杂的气流,并使用隔音材料或结构来吸收增加的噪音。

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