American engineers James Powell and Gordon Danby received the first U.S. patent in 1967 for a magnetic levitation (maglev) design utilizing superconducting magnets. Their inventions, including the inductive levitation and stabilization guideway, null flux geometry, and the Linear Synchronous Motor for vehicle propulsion, have been adopted in various systems around the world, for example, the 300 mile (483 kilometer) Tokyo to Osaka maglev route. Maglev trains can travel at very high speeds using minimal energy due to its design; the train is suspended slightly above the track through the force of magnetism and there is no contact between the train and the track, and therefore no friction from the track. Supposedly, a maglev train can reach speeds up to 650 km/h, a significant increase relative to conventional trains. However, the high costs have hindered the widespread use of maglev transportation systems. Powell and Danby were awarded the 2000 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Engineering by the Franklin Institute for their work on Maglev trains.
Cutler J. Cleveland (Lead Author);Peter Saundry (Topic Editor) "Powell, James". In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [First published in the Encyclopedia of Earth August 22, 2008; Last revised Date August 22, 2008; Retrieved June 18, 2013 <http://www.eoearth.org/article/Powell,_James>