Skip to comments.The Science of Rail Guns
Posted on 03/20/2012 9:44:57 PM PDT by U-238
Ubiquitous in science fiction, rail guns are a hot area of military research in real life too. But will we ever really get to use them the way people in science fiction do? And could rail guns be used for a non-violent reason inexpensively launching payload into space?
Halo Reach ends with your Spartan taking up a mounted rail gun to destroy an incoming Covenant ship. Rail guns are the basis for a funny aside in Mass Effect 2. They're used in Babylon 5 and Stargate Atlantis and The Last Starfighter. And they're a devastating hand-held weapon in the Metal Gear Solid and Quake series. Now, let's discover the real science behind rail guns. Ejecting pieces of metal at phenomenal velocities The initial theory leading to modern rail guns owes itself to Louis Octave Fauchon-Villeplee, an early 20th Century French scientist who was awarded the patent, Electric Apparatus for Propelling Projectiles. The patent proposed passing current through two strips of aluminum, with an induced force pushing a metal block forward.
Modern rail guns typically make use of two metal rails, a movable armature, and a power supply. Current passes from a positive conducting rail, over the armature, and to a negative conducting rail, creating a magnetic field in the process that sends a projectile resting on or within the armature forward. Laboratory conditions produced velocities of up to 9 kilometers per second using small mass projectiles; nearing the velocity needed for an object on the surface of the planet to escape the gravitational pull of Earth.
(Excerpt) Read more at io9.com ...
Could they, in principle, be effective replacements for bullets and gunpowder?
They’re testing ship-based platforms right now. A few obstacles have to be overcome, like heat dissipation, structure fatigue and power supply.
Yes.You would not to expend a spent cartridge from the breech.You can develop a railgun rifle.
Stationary Gun Platform yes. Power requirement are huge doubt batteries/mobile generator will ever be able to keep up. Not at least in my lifetime.
It would be such an advantage, if they ever overcome these issues. Not having to carry fuel would leave so much more room for ammunition.
Something the caseless cartridge experimenters learned.
I think Newton’s third law of something pushing back with the same force that it pushes forward could be a problem as well.
You are right about the caseless cartridge and experiments
If they are discussing a railgun rifle maybe they have a prototype or close to one that we are not aware of.
Science Fiction always becomes science fact.
It all boils down to the size of the power source, and the reduction of resistance. Resistance equals heat, which requires size and complexity and weight to dissipate. Power sources for weapons are usually rather bulky.
But if you could create a zero-point energy source running a small, room-temperature-frictionless electromagnetic levitation bubble areound your rail gun projectile...
... that would be, like, awesome.
With railguns, most of the recoil is actually perpendicular to the direction of the projectile, trying to force the rails apart in both directions. If the rails are bound to each other, the forces net against each other, and basically there is no recoil.
You may end up expending a power supply though.
A use once and discard capacitor may be the power supply of choice for a rail gun.
Capacitors are able to discharge much more quickly than batteries and so would be a preferable source of portable power for a rail gun.
But that is where we are heading?All you need is a reliable power source and you have a portable rifle.
Just imagine a portable railgun rifle with special laser sighting in the hands of a sniper.
I wouldnt go so far as to say that, but I would say that the power supply may well be the biggest hurdle.
Talisker makes good points on conductors. Making a conductor capable of handling the currents required to launch a projectile at 5000 fps and survive to do it a second time is a major hurdle.
What we may see first is a man portable shoulder fired rail gun anti-tank weapon that is used once and discarded.
Materials that can survive the high current loads are the major problem to overcome in a man portable rail gun. This is why I think a disposable man portable weapon will be the first on the battle field.
It may take high current room temperature superconductors to make a rail gun battle rifle a reality.
I agree with you.Good Post
It would be a great battlefield rifle.