Maglev: An Example of Overunity Energy Production

Paul A. LaViolette


The technology of magnetic levitation, or "Maglev," has useful application in the development of high-speed trains.  This industry has become more promising in the last two to three decades with developments in the area of superconductors. The Shanghai Transrapid, the world's first commercial maglev train, began operation in Shanghai, China in 2004 over a 30 km long track.  It operates daily carrying several hundred passengers on each of its trips.  Liquid helium-cooled, low-temperature superconductor plates mounted beneath the train cars expel from their interior all environmental magnetic fields, a phenomenon termed the Meissner effect.  As a result, the magnetic field generated by a series of underlying superconducting solenoids, exerts a repulsive pressure on the superconductor which levitates the train.  

The maglev phenomenon is also observed in high-temperature superconductors such as Yttrium-Barium-Copper-Oxide (YBCO) which becomes superconducting at liquid nitrogen temperatures.  In this case, a magnetic repulsion phenomenon occurs because the superconductor plate expels from its interior the underlying magnetic field lines and develops mirror fields, or pinned magnetic fields, having a polarity opposed to these underlying field lines causing the plate to repel upward.  This Meissner effect levitation phenomenon is demonstrated in the video below in which an YBCO high-temperature superconductor is initially at room temperature with a cube magnet placed over it. It is then precooled below its critical temperature by immersing it in liquid nitrogen. This causes the magnet to rise up and hover over the YBCO in seeming violation of the First Law. That is, work is done with the magnet rising up, but where does the energy come from?


It may come as a surprise that this well accepted maglev phenomenon which is currently transporting people in Shanghai routinely violates the First Law of Thermodynamics as well as Newton's Third Law.  To see why consider the following example for the case of a train utilizing an YBCO superconductor.

Consider the ideal case of a maglev train car weighing 30 tons that has attached to its bottom 30 horizontally disposed YBCO superconductor plates and that these initially rest on a bed of permanent magnets each of whose field axes points upward towards these plates.  Imagine that initially the plates are above their critical temperature and hence not in their superconducting state.  As a result, the train rests firmly on its underlying magnets, the magnetic field from each magnet penetrating through its overlying YBCO slab.  Now, suppose that liquid nitrogen is added to the insulated containers that surround the YBCO plates, cooling each below its critical temperature.  As the plates become superconducting, they develop supercurrents which produce pinned magnetic fields having a polarity opposed to the magnetic fields produced by the underlying magnets.  As a result, the external magnetic fields are repulsively expelled from the YBCO slabs and the mutual repulsion of these opposing fields levitates the train 2 centimeters.  

This levitation process involves an increase of gravitational potential energy. The energy required for levitating the train car amounts to the car's weight (30 tons), multiplied by the acceleration of gravity, multiplied by the 2 cm levitated distance which would be approximately 600 billion ergs, or 1.4 kilocalories.  Or, divided among the 30 superconducting plates, this involves an energy increase per levitating plate of 47 calories. The conventional physicist will want to know where did this energy come from.  Moreover, if this levitation is accomplished in the space of 1 second, which seems to be a reasonable amount of time, then this levitation involved a power expenditure of 60 kilowatts, or 2 kilowatts per superconducting plate.

Related to this, there is the question of how the pinned fields in the superconductor plates are able to sustain their repulsive lifting force as they keep the train levitated. These pinned fields are generated by Cooper pair electrons indefinitely circling in the superconductor forming supercurrent loops.  So, one might ask: what centripetal force acts on these circling Cooper pairs to keep them circulating while the pinned fields they are generating are being forcefully opposed by the external magnetic field?  

The train levitates because the pinned magnetic fields in the superconductor plates oppose the external field of the permanent magnets.  The energy or power that sustains these supercurrents and their pinned fields and consequently levitates the train could not be drawn from the external magnetic fields because the pinned fields continuously oppose these fields and for the most part expel this external magnetic field from the superconducting plate.  Hence it must come from some other source.

It is also unlikely that in creating their pinned fields that the supercurrents draw energy from the superconductor's environment, that is, from its surrounding liquid nitrogen cooling bath.  This would go against the conventional understanding that heat flows out of the superconductor into its cooling bath as it cools below its critical temperature, and not vice versa.  Thus heat energy is in fact escaping from the superconductor.

Could this energy come from the zero-point energy continuum which many believe to be an immense reservoir of energy that extends throughout space?  Conventional physics also calls this the "zero-point quantum field" or "quantum vacuum" and theorizes that it is made up of hypothetical virtual particles and virtual antiparticle pairs that spring into and out of existence so quickly that their presence cannot be measured.  Quantum field theory holds that the field making up any subatomic particle is nonlocalized and hence intertwined with this surrounding energy field. This interlinkage applies equally to the Cooper pair electrons that generate the supercurrents in the superconductor plates. So, in the framework of standard physics, one could theorize that these Cooper pair electrons somehow draw the needed energy from this spatially extended ominipresent reservoir.  

But this idea is highly speculative.  First of all, conventional physics does not consider zero-point virtual fluctuations as being real energy.  Moreover even if the fluctuations are theorized to be real for a brief moment, they are so evanescent as to be immeasurable, so how can we expect them to remain long enough to transfer any of their energy to a superconductor?  Anyway, this zero-point energy concept has been grossly over-used in attempts to offer explanations for the source of energy powering over-unity energy technologies.  

In my opinion, this conventional zero-point energy concept is not properly formulated.  Namely, I do not believe that these energy fluctuations emerge as correlated particle-antiparticle pairs.  I view this phenomenon in the framework of subquantum kinetics which predicts the spontaneous emergence of random electric and gravity field potential impulses, most of which have individual energy contents that are orders of magnitude smaller than the electron rest mass energy.  Hence I believe 1) that these fluctuations are subquantum, and 2) that they do not arise in polarity couples.  They are simply random noise present in the underlying ether substrate, an idea that comes close to that of Bohm and Vigier.  Subquantum kinetics predicts that this incessant random activity arises because the ether is composed of myriads of etherons that are randomly diffusing and interacting with one another.  So ultimately, the energy of these pulses may be traced back to the ether reactions themselves that sustain our physical universe.  In subquantum kinetics, these energy impulses are real rather than virtual.  But most are too small in magnitude to produce useful energy even if rectified.  So, I do not believe they offer a viable explanation of where maglev acquires its energy.  Nevertheless zero-point energy fluctuations are very important in accounting for the continuous creation of matter (neutrons) throughout the universe (indeed an over-unity process).

So, where then does the energy come from to lift the train car?  One possibility to consider is the process of Cooper pair formation.  When the temperature of the YBCO plate falls below its critical temperature, its electrons create Cooper pairs, a new quantum state where the paired electrons have a net spin of either 0 or 1.  By comparison, in their unpaired state they have a spin of 1/2.  Once the electrons have formed Cooper pairs, they enter the superconducting state and can form current loops called fluxons which generate the pinned magnetic fields that oppose the external magnetic field from the permanent magnets.  So, ultimately we may trace the increase of the train's potential energy during magnetic levitation to the creation of Cooper pairs in the superconductor.  Cooper pair formation involves a binding force of the order of 10-3 electron volts per pair.  Hence in going to the Cooper pair quantum state, the electrons within the YBCO loses energy. We may estimate roughly the amount of energy loss as follows.  Suppose that a single YBCO plate weighs about 1000 grams and has a volume of about 160 cm3.  The density of conduction electrons is figured at 5 X 1028 m-3.  So the YBCO plate should contain 8 X 1024 conduction electrons and one thousandth of these are expected to form Cooper pairs (see following link). Hence the plate should contain about 8 X 1021 Cooper pairs, and the creation of this many Cooper pairs would release about 1019 electron volts, which is equivalent to 0.3 calories per superconductor plate.  This falls short by two orders of magnitude to provide the 47 calories needed by each YBCO plate to lift the train car, as estimated above.

So, standard physics is only left with the zero-point continuum as a possible energy source, and as noted above this is a highly speculative option.  The answer is to adopt the subquantum kinetics open-system paradigm and not to be so concerned where the energy comes from.  In subquantum kinetics, an immense activity is expended every second just to keep the physical universe sustained in existence.  Whether a body sits motionless on the floor or accelerates to a high velocity, in either case a continual reaction-diffusion activity must be expended.  The pinned fields that self-organize in the superconductor, repel the magnetic fields of the external permanent magnets, and lift the train are an example of field-ordering that creates work.  The Cooper pair supercurrents mutually coordinate to create this lifting force.  But this is very small in comprison to the etheric activity that must be expended every instant to keep the electrons and their YBCO matrix in existence.  Contemporary physics takes completely for granted that something in existence should remain in existence.  But this is a naive view.  When one adopts the perspective of subquantum kinetics, seeking a source of energy to explain over-unity behavior no longer is such a major issue.