posted on Apr, 8 2009 @ 03:03 AM
A magnetic accelerator cannon is, quite obviously, and sort of device that accelerates a slug using magnetism.
There are, of course, quite a few methods of doing this, and all are, as far as I know, hideously inefficient.
There are solenoid guns or coilguns, sometimes called "gauss rifles", which involve one or more coils of wire used as an electromagnet to pull a
ferromagnetic slug through a barrel. This takes very accurate timing to get any real power out, especially with multiple coils.
A variation on this is the induction coilgun. It uses non-ferromagnetic slugs, sometimes ring-shaped, as projectiles. This variant induces a current
in the slug, and repels the induced magnetic field, pushing the slug through the barrel, instead of pulling it.
Coilguns do not scale up easily. imparting a force on the projectile imparts a force on the coils, and it's hard to make a coil tough compared to a
regular cannon barrel.
Then there are the ever popular railguns, which use the lorentz force to accelerate projectiles. These are generally easier to build than large
coilguns, and don't require fancy timing electronics, just huge quantites of electrical power. At high powers, the contact between the projectile and
the rails causes problems. If the projectile moves too slowly, it can become welded to the rails, and even it moves quickly enough, the rails can be
eroded. The rails themselves are subjected to a great deal of force and have to be built very tough.
There are also silly things that fit the criteria, like using a constrained pair of permanent magnets end to end as a way of storing potential energy,
and then letting them go.