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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wicked Twister LIM launch coaster

In our series of articles where we take a look at the worlds biggest electric vehicles in an effort to dispel the myth that EVs have to be low powered vehicles we've already looked at a 3650 hp dump truck, a 24,460 hp Bullet train, a 140,000 hp ship and a 4,400 hp Diesel electric hybrid locomotive.

This week we'll look at one of the fastest accelerating roller coasters in the world, Wicked Twister at Cedar Point, Ohio. Wicked Twister is a launch coaster meaning it accelerates from a standing start eliminating the need to construct a huge lift hill. Using a row of powerful Linear Induction Motors, the launch system has enough force to hurl the 32 passenger train out of the load station at 50 Mph (80 kph) and immediately into a 100 foot (33 m) vertical climb.

The train is launched a total of 5 times over the course of the ride: three times forward and twice backward. The second forward launch thrusts the trains forward with enough force to reach the top of the front spire, 215 feet in the air, equal to the height of a 24 story building.

These Linear Induction Motors certainly pack a huge punch, over 3 MW or approx 4000 hp worth of electricity is used to accelerate the train from 0-50 mph in just 2.5 seconds. That's a 32 passenger train faster off the line than a 650 hp Ferrari Enzo. An LIM is effectively an electric motor cut in half with the stator rolled flat. Two of these 'rolled-flat' stators are mounted parallel facing each other while aluminum plates are mounted on the coaster carriages. When the stator coils are powered up a strong magnetic field is generated in the air gap between the facing stators and as the aluminum plate on the train passes through the gap eddy currents are generated in the plate strong enough to launch the coaster with kilo newtons of force.

Since Wicked Twister was opened in 2002 over 7 million riders have experienced the enormous acceleration of electrically powered Linear Induction Motors.

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