Assessment of Potential Emissions Reductions from Linear Motor Systems

Focus Area

Climate Change


Air Quality, Environmental Process




Under $99k



Research Idea Scope

Current surface transportation systems depend on century-old internal-combustion technology that produces millions of tons of GHG’s and other emissions annually. Highway vehicles produce emissions while idling in traffic and in “drive-thru” windows; aircraft produce emissions while taxiing and during takeoff/landing; and most trains in the U.S. produce emissions on unpowered railways. These emissions could be eliminated through deployment of existing, linear-motor technology.
Research would provide a comprehensive assessment of potential emissions reductions from deployment of linear-motor transportations systems for highway, train, and aircraft:
·      For highways, linear motor stators could be buried in one or more lanes, and existing vehicles could be retrofitted with aluminum plates;
·      Electric vehicles could be afforded essentially unlimited range and recharge while in transit
·      For aircraft, linear motors in taxiways would eliminate need to burn jet fuel during taxiing; aircraft could be retrofitted with retractable aluminum plates or, alternatively, linear motor-propelled taxi vehicles could be used.
·      If incorporated into runways, linear motors could provide takeoff and landing assist to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, with added benefits of regenerative braking and  noise reduction.
·      For trains, linear motors could be installed in railways to reduce fuel consumption and emissions in yards, as well as for long-distance travel.
Assessment must include estimates regarding continued increased deployment of renewable power generation, and distributed-grid systems that could be utilized by linear motor systems.
Related Work
·      Gurol, Husam. “General Atomics Linear Motor Applications: Moving Towards Deployment,” in Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 97, No. 11, Nov. 2009.
·      Meeker, David, and Michael John Newman, “Indirect Vector Control of a Redundant Linear Induction Motor for Aircraft Launch,” in Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 97, No. 11, Nov. 2009.
·      Thornton, Richard, et al. “Linear Motor Powered Transportation,” in Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 97, No. 11, Nov. 2009.
·      Wright, Michael R. “
Urgency/PriorityAssigning priority of this assessment must consider any near- and long-term plans to improve or further develop 20th-century internal-combustion transportation infrastructure, rather than investing in new technologies for the 21st century.

Urgency and Payoff

Research findings would be implemented by dissemination to transportation agencies at all levels, including those cited above. Objective costs and benefits, including long-term savings, would be included.
Societal benefits of such research would be an objective, comprehensive picture of how transitioning transportation in the U.S. to linear-motor based systems could improve both the environment and the economy through lower emissions, high fuel efficiency, and low-maintenance vehicles and infrastructure. Although initial deployment costs of such systems is high, these costs might be outweighed by the long-term savings in fuel and maintenance, as well as environmental benefits.

Suggested By

RNS. Sponsoring Committee: A0020T, Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy Source Info: Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy January 2010 Workshop