Our transportation has not changed over 100 years. We have been using trains, cars, bikes, planes, and even horses. Hyperloop is basically a new concept and is being considered as the fifth mode of transportation. So, what actually is a hyperloop?
How doeas Hyperloop works?
Hyperloop consists of pod or capsule which is used to transport people or goods that is operated in a sealed tube at near vacuum environment. The pod floats over the surface of the tube by magnetic levitation. So, there is no friction.No air friction means the pod traveling at an average speed of 900 kmph with a top speed up to 1220 kmph. The system is powered by a solar panel so it is extremely energy efficient. As a matter of fact, the hyperloop generates more energy than it consumes as a closed system.
The concept of hyperloop backs to 1909 when rocket pioneer Robert Godard purposed similar concept for a vacuum train. However, it was recently brought to light by a technopreneur Elon Musk. When he was stuck in LA traffic for his meeting, he thought for the concept for that fifth mode of transport as we know as ‘hyperloop’.In 2013, he drafted the blueprint for the Hyperloop, he then put the challenge for developing this to the engineering community at a competition.
The test for the Hyperloop is being done in a 500-meter Devloop track in Nevada desert. There are three companies currently involved in the development of the Hyperloop technology and bring it to real life.
- Hyperloop technologies
- Hyperloop transporter technology Inc.
Recently Richard Branson and his Virgin Group has also joined to invest in hyperloop.
Science behind Hyperloop
The passenger capsule and freight capsule are propelled by an electromagntic motor in a low-pressure hyperloop tube. The low pressure minimizes the friction due to air. But, even a small amount of air in the tube can cause a problem. Due to the Kantrowitz limit, at lower speeds, there is enough space between the pod and the tube for the air to pass through. But, as the speed increases, this reaches a limit, the pod begins to push a large volume of air ahead of it. This cause the speed of the pod to decrease immediately. This can be fixed by using the compressor fan in front of the pod and redirects it to the back for the additional thrust or to the air bearing to levitate to the pod on a cushion of air.
Hyperloop is much cheaper to build. The cost to build is cheaper by 4 billion dollars for the same distance as compared to the purposed California high-speed railway system that will be costing around 10 billion dollars. So, the ticket can be as low as 25 $ per trip for LA to San Fransico taking only 30 minutes for the travel.
The Hyperloop is much safer than other modes of transport including air transport. The tubes stand over the pillar- these pillars have a lower footprint as it is above the ground. In the case of an earthquake, each tube track can sway.
The Hyperloop will transform freight transportation as it allows the fastest delivery of raw materials to the manufacturing units at a very low time. This will increase the productivity and efficiency of the industrial complex.
Moreover, Hyperloop will also transform our migration phenomena as people can reach the big cities at a very less time. They can choose to live in places with low housing cost and cheaper cost of living.
Some critics claim that the experience in hyperloop can be unpleasant and frightening as the passengers are riding in sealed and windowless capsules at a lower pressure environment. The passengers have to experience significant acceleration forces and level of noise at near sonic speed. The noise due to air being compressed vibrations and joltings will be significant. At such speed of Hyperloop, a passenger will also be experiencing lateral G-force at curves of the tube. Some also literate the situation as “an elephant sitting on the chest.”Musk has told that the route will be decreased to be maximum of 0.5 G.
The Hyperloop is still in the development phase. There are several problems that need to be solved before bringing to the general public. However, the potential is huge and implementation is real. Because of huge prospect, many countries have shown great interest in developing Hyperloop in their cities including India, China, UAE, Russia, South Korea, and Europe.No wonder, Hyperloop experience will be really fascinating.