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Inspired by Star Wars, businessman creates magnetic levitation vehicle

Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - October 14, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A Davao City-based businessman’s childhood fascination with spaceships and floating vehicles in the Star Wars trilogy has led him to research and development studies on magnetic levitation (maglev) transport technology.

Jose L. Guardo Jr. recently won a regional invention award of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for his maglev miniature vehicle and a concept for maglev elevator inspired by the science fiction franchise.

Guardo’s cash prize totaled P50,000 as 1st runner-up in the DOST Region 11 Invention Contest and Exhibits (RICE) Tuklas Awards last week for a maglev miniature scale monorail model. He also took second place for tapping the principles of maglev for an elevator.

Guardo has drawn a pledge of support from the DOST, particularly the Technology Application and Promotions Institute and director Edgar Garcia, for planned initiatives for a life-size prototyping of his toy-size monorail vehicle, and the basic safety testing of prototypes at the Mindanao Science Centrum in the DOST compound in Bago Oshiro in Tugbok, Davao City.

“It’s a hybrid maglev monorail. It can run as permanent maglev or non-contact using permanent magnet on a magnetic array,” Guardo told The STAR in a phone interview.

The DOST has expressed interest in Guardo’s efforts at tapping maglev technology, which it noted was an efficient mass transport system that uses magnetic levitation to move vehicles without touching the ground.

The architecture graduate from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, now into real estate in Davao, said that he was excited to start work on a life-size prototype assembly of a maglev monorail vehicle in Davao City.

He said that the country, which is rich in iron ore and other minerals, can provide the materials needed to come up with magnets required for a maglev vehicle if need for local sourcing arises.

The prototype travels along a guide way similar to the DOST’s Automated Guideway Transit in UP-Diliman and in Bicutan, Taguig City. 

The technology has been used for several years in countries such as Germany, China and Japan.

Guardo’s patented maglev technology is an elevated ultra-lightweight, mid to high-speed hybrid monorail that uses dynamic hybrid magnetic array rotary propulsion wheel system, which according to him is ideal in transporting commuters in urban and provincial routes.

This means that at the bottom of the coach are components with a mix of electromagnets and neodymium iron boron, a rare earth magnetic material. These magnets are designed to create repulsions from the lower part that enables the train to levitate and propel the coach.

The train is also capable of making sharp curves of up to 15 meters. It has a track width of about 1.8 meters x 2.5 meters, which would not hamper view of the Manila skyline.

It can run at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour, or slower for shorter runs.

According to Guardo’s manuscript, the development of the maglev is cheaper as it will use aluminum as guideways. It will also use regenerative energy through an inverter when the motor decelerates. Solar panels shall be installed on the terminal rooftops.

The maglev technology was a product of 15 years of research and development. According to Guardo, he was so fascinated with magnets in his younger years and this stoked his interest in levitating cars as seen in some sci-fi movies. 

His previous attempt at magnetic levitation was done through an elevator system called Multi Car Cyclic Magnetic Elevator. In 2005, he invented the hybrid maglev monorail with Domingo Peñaloza in Shanghai, China.

A DAVAO CITY ACIRC AUTOMATED GUIDEWAY TRANSIT BAGO OSHIRO CHINA AND JAPAN DAVAO CITY DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DOMINGO PE EDGAR GARCIA GUARDO MAGLEV
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