197: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop


Any effort to increase mass transit decreases energy consumed by invidual vehicle owners. Most rail transit uses electrical energy.


In 2013, Tesla electric sportscar maker, Elon Musk re-invented a passenger train that would be faster than trains, safer than cars and much less damaging to the environment than aircraft. He called it Hyperloop.

It incorporates reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules, travelling at up to 620 mph (1000 kph) ride on air bearings driven by linear induction motors and axial compressors. Musk proposed a route running from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly following the Interstate 5 corridor.

An agreement was signed in 2017 to co-develop a Hyperloop line between Seoul and Busan in South Korea. Although Musk originally envisaged his Hyperloop system being used by cars and personal pods, in 2018 he announced that instead it would give first place to pedestrians and cyclists.

The tunnels would still transport cars, but only after all personalized mass transit needs have been met. His Boring Co. urban loop system would have 1000’s of small stations the size of a single parking space that take the 124 mph (200 kph), midibus rider very close to their destination & blend seamlessly into the fabric of a city, rather than a small number of big stations such as a subway.

Where the Hyperloop differs from high-speed rail is that Musk has proposed scattering Hyperloop entrances along connecting cities more akin to subway stops rather than train halls, and that it was more for “personal transit”. The downside would that the machines building Hyperloop will use more electricity.

On November 8th 2020, the renamed Virgin Hyperloop made its first 100 mph passenger carrying trial at the company’s DevLoop test track in the desert outside Las Vegas, in the Nevada desert. The first two passengers were Virgin Hyperloop’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Josh Giegel, and head of passenger experience, Sara Luchian.

Parallel to Musk’s Hyperloop, China is building an experimental maglev train which by using vacuum-sealed tunnels, would reach speeds of more than 620 mph.

The prototype, laid in the central province of Hubei in early 2020 will be capable of reducing time from Hubei’s capital city, Wuhan, to the near-coastal city of Guangzhou, to just under two hours for a distance 1,367 mi. (2,200 km.). Hubei expects to start testing 124 mi (200 km.) sections of these vacuum tunnels in 2020 to “to verify the cutting-edge, high-temperature superconducting maglev theory and ultimately push the speed limit to 620 mph ( 1,000 kph).

Discover Solution 198: Hydrogen home batteries

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