How powerful is a roller coaster?


Cars require some sort of engine or motor, gas or electric, to get you to your fun destination. These powertrains can get you to your local theme park for roller coaster thrills. Although the maintenance design is completely different, roller coasters also require some kind of motor to operate and they produce power. How do roller coasters work and how much power is under those covers?

Roller coasters run on physics

‘Lucky Luke’ roller coaster | David Young/picture alliance via Getty Images

According How it works, roller coasters are similar to passenger trains in the way you ride in interconnected cars, but the difference is that most roller coasters don’t need a motor or power source to operate. It’s gravity and momentum that carries you most of the time.

To start, you need to build that momentum by going to the top of the hill. Most traditional roller coasters use a chain lift to take you to the top of the hill. A long chain or several chains under the track pull the cars to the top of the hill. This chain is wrapped around a gear up and down the hill. The gear at the bottom is driven by a motor.

Going up the hill builds potential energy, the energy of position. This potential energy is then released as kinetic energy, the energy of motion, as you descend the hill. Once you turn the corner of the first hill, gravity takes control of the car and applies a constant downward force. The track controls where the train will go as gravity forces it down. Downhills speed up the car and uphills slow it down. It’s really a basic concept. Roller coasters use gravity and inertia to propel the car along the track. No engine is needed thanks to physics once the car is in motion.

Most modern roller coasters use launch systems

According York Precision and Hydraulic MachiningThere are three main launch systems used in more modern roller coasters:

  • Electromagnets: The linear induction system uses electromagnets to create two magnetic fields. There is a field on the track and another under the train. These fields are attracted to each other. The motor moves the magnetic field along the track, pulling the train at high speed.
  • Hydraulic: Hydraulic systems use a combination of hydraulic motors to provide power, a winch to attach the motors to the pick-up, a catch car that goes under the car, and a return cable to return the car to the starting point.
  • Pneumatic: Pneumatic systems are similar to hydraulic systems, except they use air instead of nitrogen gas and hydraulic fluid.

These systems are very powerful. According Wiki idea, the hydraulic pumps can produce about 500 horsepower each. The new pneumatic systems can launch the car from rest to 80 mph in 1.8 seconds.

Several American roller coasters use launch systems

The following roller coasters in the United States use the most modern launch systems with excellent reviews:

  • Kingda Ka (Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey): Kingda Ka is the tallest and second fastest roller coaster in the world. It uses a hydraulic launch system. It can reach 128 mph in 3.5 seconds.
  • VelociCoaster (Universal Islands of Adventure, Orlando): Forbes explains that his roller coaster has two launches. One launches you to 70 mph in 2.4 seconds and takes you 155 feet in the air, followed by an 80-degree drop.
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorcycle Adventure (Universal Islands of Adventure, Orlando): Have a good trip explains that this “story coaster” tops out at 50 mph with seven launches, which is the most launches on any roller coaster in the world.
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Orlando): Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is Walt Disney World’s first roller coaster to have multiple inversions. It also includes 120-125 speakers and 24 subwoofers, depending Inside the magic.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (EPCOT, Orlando): Guardians of the Galaxy is the first at Walt Disney World to feature a reverse launch. It is expected to debut in 2022 and will contain one of the longest enclosed roller coasters in the world, according to the website. coaster.

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