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Engineering Analysis of the Intamin Accelerator Roller Coaster

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Introduction

´╗┐Accelerator Coaster The accelerator coaster is a roller-coaster created by the Swiss thrill ride manufacturer, Intamin. This type of roller-coaster can take riders from 0-150 mph in under 5 seconds. It holds records for the highest roller-coaster (King-da Ka, Six Flags Great Adventure) and the fastest roller-coaster in the world (Formula Rossa, Ferrari World). This type of roller-coaster can invert however most designs usually opt for the signature top hat (pictured on the left). There are several main components that make this roller-coaster special and different to other manufacturers' approaches. These are the restraints and seats, the brakes and the launch section. The restraints on the accelerator coaster are different to ones before it. Prior roller-coasters had ratchet designs meaning that the rider's restraint could only be secured in a limited number of positions. This means the restraint could be too tight or slightly too loose. Intamin's over-the-shoulder restraints (OTSR) uses two hydraulic cylinders instead, which means an exact fit for each person (unless the rider's waist is more than 55?!). ...read more.

Middle

However this is often quite rough and uncomfortable because of the high speeds (the King-da Ka accelerator roller-coaster travels at 140mph just before the brake run). Intamin's brakes work on the basis of eddy currents. A braking force is possible when a electric current is passed through the electromagnets on either side of the track. The movement of metal on the side of the train through the magnetic field of the electromagnets creates eddy currents in the discs. These eddy currents generate an opposing magnetic field, which then resists the forward motion of the train, providing braking force which is incredibly smooth as a computer controls the strength of the electromagnetic fields which then controls the train's deceleration. Intamin also use hydraulics in their launch system. They have patented this because it is what propels the trains to extreme speeds very quickly. This acceleration creates the thrill the riders are wanting to experience. This hydraulic motor enables the train to reach high speeds in very short times. ...read more.

Conclusion

The hydraulic launch principle is used on aircraft carriers to launch planes that wont have enough runway to launch normally. On some aircraft carriers, they use diesel engines (pneumatic launches) instead of hydraulics which, although less powerful, is more cost-effective. The basic principle of the hydraulic launch can also be used in regenerative braking. A good example of the use of regenerative braking is in street cleaning and refuse collection vehicles. This is because of the constant stop-start nature of the vehicle. As the truck starts to slow down, its drive shaft starts to slow down but still spins. This is wasted energy so instead of wasting it, the drive shaft turns a motor which compresses nitrogen gas to increase pressure. The high pressure gas is stored in accumulators and when the vehicle starts again, the pressure is released. This powers a motor which spins the drive-shaft helping the initial inertia to be overcome. As a result, less fuel is used to start the truck, so saving fuel and, in turn, money. In summary, the above shows how an engineering solution for a specific problem can be used in different applications. ...read more.

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