Very rapid transit
Segmented-Rail Phased-Induction Motor (Seraphim) trains may provide an alternative to very fast, but very expensive magnetic-levitation designs. A turbine-powered pulsed electromagnet in the locomotive induces magnetic fields in aluminum plates installed in the roadbed. On-board optical sensors time the pulses so that the induced fields push the train down the track. Unlike a standard linear-induction motor, motive efficiency increases with vehicle speeds up to 300 mph.
The system offers a step-by-step approach to high-speed rail. Conventional and high-speed trains could run on the same track, with the Seraphim train merely slowing down to conventional speeds on curves. If the system proved popular, higher-speed roads could be built to connect city centers with regional airports, maximizing mass-transport efficiency.
Robert Turman, Sandia National Laboratories, MS 0167, Albuquerque, NM 87185-0167, (505) 845-7119.
For all the high-tech wizardry on modern airliners, pilots and ground crews still check for ice on wings by sight and touch. An ultrasonic contamination-detection system now undergoing field tests will supplement manual preflight inspections to improve safety, reduce flight delays, and cut airline costs.
The HALO(TM) system monitors acoustic signals transmitted through wing surfaces. Its signal processor can distinguish waveform changes characteristic of snow, ice, or de-icing glycol solution on the wing. By supplanting rules of thumb for de-icing decisions, the system should reduce carriers' overall volume of glycol expended, and the resultant flight delays now needed to ensure flight safety. Although still in prototype, the system could lead to automated monitoring for corrosion or fatigue damage as well.
Sol Mirelez, Rosemount Aerospace, Inc., 14300 Judicial Rd., Burnsville, MN 55306-4898, (612) 892-4253.
Forget problematic lock-wire retainers for hydraulic couplings. Instead, slip the Klutch Klip(TM) retainer over the tube end of the coupling before torquing the nut down. One arm of the U-shaped, stamped retainer features serrations, tabs, etc. to prevent rotation at the stud end. The other arm has a dished, one-way clutch pattern stamped into its face. Users tighten the nut without special tools, and the clip's clutch and axial force keep the nut from backing off even during heavy vibration.
Rosan Engineering, Rosan/Aerospace Div., Fairchild Corp., 3130 W. Harvard St., Box 25225, Santa Ana, CA 92799, (714) 641-8801.