EM Launch

EM Launch

Program Overview

CEM has four decades of research expertise in Electromagnetic (EM) launch, and the high power machines that drive these systems.  While early research was catalyzed by DOD weapons development of electromagnetic railguns and aircraft launch (EMALS), the discoveries made in this research have contributed to numerous technologies prevalent in the society today, from roller coasters to high-speed train applications, with many more future technologies in consideration.

Many of the DOD EM launch technologies have reached in-field testing maturity.  The most recent test of a railgun took place on December 10, 2010, by the US Navy at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.  During the test, the Office of Naval Research set a world record by conducting a 33 MJ shot from the railgun, which was built by BAE Systems.  A link to a video of the shot can be found here.  Similarly the EMALS technology that uses a linear induction motor and alternators for energy storage is being tested by the Navy for launching aircraft.  Compared to steam catapults, EMALS weighs less, occupies less space, requires less maintenance and manpower, is more reliable, and uses less energy.   Recent testing aboard the Gerald Ford aircraft carrier can be found here.

While the DOD railgun research continues today, efforts are currently focused on improving materials performance for both the gun bore and projectiles.  CEM’s research remains focused on rotating machine innovations for numerous applications across a variety of industries.

CEM Approach

CEM entered into EM launch research in 1979, by developing both power supplies and accelerators for the US Electromagnetic Propulsion program.  CEM machine designs over the past four decades have continually raised the bar of machine performance.  CEM’s maintains a rigorous prototype design process that combines electromagnetic, thermal, and stress computational analysis with solid state modeling.  CEM leverages unique hardware testing capabilities throughout the prototype fabrication and experimental testing process to insure machines achieve specified system performance.


Jon Hahne

Mr. Jon Hahne


Soft Catch Chamber

Soft Catch

Railgun performance is well characterized and understood with very tunable amplitudes and rise times for the acceleration profile.