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March 5th, 2013

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So today's XKCD What-If...

...about the logarithmic scale-powered hairdryer is pretty much the topic of my research work at the University of Bath in the early 1990s, when I was developing electrothermal models for the heating effects inside electromagnetic launchers.

But his single pager is probably a little more easy to read than my paper (the TL;DR of which is "Railguns get too hot, too quickly to be practical weapons. Sorry David Weber et al.)

The high transient currents used by electromagnetic launch techniques produce a wide range of problems for modeling. The use of electromagnetic finite element (FE) analysis has allowed the electromagnetic effects to be modeled, and as a result the instantaneous heating effects. A technique for modeling the cumulative heating has been demonstrated for the 2-D case in Bath University's MEGA electromagnetic FE program, by an FE application of the thermal diffusion equation. The 2-D thermal model has been modified and extended to modeling the 3-D case, and to the coupling between electromagnetic and thermal material properties.


Phew.