Fast and faster

Fast

BBC News and The Daily Telegraph wrote earlier this week about the French engineering giant Alstom who has unveiled a new high-speed train. The AGV (Automotrice Grande Vitesse) train will travel at up to 360km/h (224mph), powered by engines placed under each carriage.

Automotrice Grande Vitesse - AGV

Alstom compares the AGV – successor to the TGV – to the world’s largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380 plane, in terms of importance and innovation. The capacity will be increased from 485 to 650 passengers, and at the same time reduce energy consumption by 15 percent. The train will also make less noise.

The first trains will hit the rails in Italy in 2011 and in France around 2014.

Faster

Another story that caught my eyes last week was the exploratory plans for a ultrafast eco-friendly passenger jet.

A2 - The hypersonic plane

With funding from the European Space Agency, a team of engineers and scientists has come up with the A2, a plane they believe could carry 300 passengers at a top speed of more than 6400km/h (3,000mph)!

Alan Bond, a senior engineer and managing director at the company, said the A2 could be operating within 25 years if there was demand for it.

The A2 is designed to leave Brussels international airport, fly quietly and subsonically out into the north Atlantic at mach 0.9 before reaching mach 5 across the North Pole and heading over the Pacific to Australia.

The flight time from Brussels to Australia, allowing for air traffic control, would be four hours 40 minutes. It sounds incredible by today’s standards but I don’t see why future generations can’t make day trips to Australasia.

The key to the design is the fuel it would use. Conventional fuels would not be able to get the A2 up to the necessary speed, and so Reaction Engines has designed an engine that would run on liquid hydrogen. A spin-off is that liquid hydrogen is potentially much greener than conventional fuel.

Another advantage of the design is that while the 132 metre-long A2 is much bigger than conventional jets it would be lighter than a Boeing 747 and could land on current airport runways.

More information is available at The Guardian.

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