Student-designed Hyperloop pod demonstrates magnetic levitation

Student-designed Hyperloop pod demonstrates magnetic levitation
A team of students from the University of Cincinnati looks on as their Hyperloop Prototype prepares to levitate. Credit: Jay Yocis/University of Cincinnati

The whirring sound of Hyperloop UC's hover engines filled the conference room as an anxious crowd shuffled closer for a better view.

Would this student-designed prototype actually levitate?

The answer came in a matter of moments as the eight miniature engines gained revolutions per minute—emitting noises reminiscent of Star Wars sound effects—and the 14-foot-long Hyperloop UC pod achieved roughly a quarter-inch of .

The unveiling and demo of Hyperloop UC's prototype at the University of Cincinnati's Myers Alumni Center on Oct. 17 was indeed a moment to celebrate for a team of more than 60 UC students who had been working nonstop to refine their entry into an international Hyperloop competition hosted by Tesla founder Elon Musk. As CEO of the aerospace firm SpaceX, Musk has challenged the world to submit ideas—and now prototypes—for a tube-based passenger system that would allow for travel between cities at the speed of sound. Testing of prototypes will take place January 27-29 when they will insert their pod for takeoff in a mile-long test track next to SpaceX in Hawthorne, California.

UC got involved when UC aerospace engineering graduate student Dhaval Shiyani took Musk's challenge to heart last year and began assembling an interdisciplinary team from across campus. UC's group is one of just 30 that has advanced to the test round of the Hyperloop competition out of more than 1,200 teams worldwide.

"We are very proud of the design we have created," said Shiyani, Hyperloop UC's president and an international student from India. "It hits all the marks with respect to performance, safety and scalability. Our education at UC has taught us well, and we are confident that we will be a force to reckon with come January."

Fellow graduate student Sid Thatham, also born in India, oversees finance, operations, marketing and fundraising for Hyperloop UC.

"Our journey has been pretty amazing," said Thatham. "We've had a chance to work on something that's larger than all of us, something that actually is going to change the way people travel in the near future."

If successful, the venture could completely shift the way commuters travel. Cincinnati to Chicago, for example, could be travelled in a half-hour—all while passengers relax in a capsule that levitates through the tube at more than 700 mph

Student-designed Hyperloop pod demonstrates magnetic levitation
The University of Cincinnati Hyperloop pod includes eight electromagnetic hover engines that allow the prototype to levitate as it travels through a Hyperloop tube. Credit: Jay Yocis/University of Cincinnati
"This has been a tremendous marriage of innovation, academics and research," said UC Interim Provost Peter Landgren. "Hyperloop is a global conversation, and Elon Musk needs to be hearing what's going on in Cincinnati."

UC Board of Trustees Chairman Rob Richardson, Eng '02, JD '05, also offered words of encouragement to the team.

"When we talk about innovation and what that means, it is not about making money," said Richardson, who received his first degree in electrical engineering. "It is really about that spirit and that passion that anything is possible, and you can rebel against the status quo.

"That spirit you have today will be challenged. People will tell you that your idea can't be done or that you are not the one that can do this. The beginning of being an innovator is being comfortable being dismissed. People often assume that because it hasn't been done, it can't be done. But nothing was possible until it was."

Richardson has also been the key driver behind Next Lives Here, an innovation summit at UC on Oct. 20 that will also include the Hyperloop UC prototype.

UC's team was among 120 teams invited to Texas A&M University in January of 2016 to present their ideas, where they were then selected to be among just 30 who are moving on to the final round of competition. UC is also the only group representing Ohio universities.

"People always say that seeing is believing and personally, seeing Hyperloop UC's design mature from rendering to prototype only further affirms that we are doing everything right here at the College of Engineering and Applied Science," said Teik C. Lim, UC CEAS dean and Herman Schneider professor of mechanical engineering. "We are always challenging our students to be innovative and cutting edge, and Hyperloop UC is all of that and so much more.

"These are engineers, designers and business students all working side by side—just as they would in the real world. They have taken their vision, formed by a host of different minds, and together have made it a reality. I couldn't be more pleased with what they have accomplished. I wish them much success as they enter the final round."

Next, UC's team will ship their pod to California for preliminary track testing in early November ahead of the competition with the 29 other teams in January.


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Oct 20, 2016
Cinc to Chicago is 473kilometers, or 473,000 m. Steel has 10ppm/C thermal growth. That is 4.7m of thermal growth for 1 deg C of temperature change for the entire tube length. How to keep a vacuum with that much thermal growth for just 1 C? And how much steel is needed for just this one tube? I dont think these teams are thinking this thing through completely.

Oct 20, 2016
Understood on 1torr, but i was more in the direction of mechanically keeping a seal to hold the vacuum. I think you need a decent wall thickness even at 1 torr to prevent 14 lbs per sq inch of force, and you need some flexible material to hold vacuum and to soak up the expansion/contraction of the tube. That is the weak point in my opinion, as well as price for the project. IF they bury the tube, or have expensive temperature control for the tube, then they can minimize thermal change/growth, but that has to add expense to the system.

Oct 20, 2016
It's not a hard vacuum because the entire point of the hyperloop is that there actually is a mass of air circling through the tube, which pushes the pods along.

The low pressure is necessary to achieve high air speed and low friction loss throughout the tube. The pressure is on the order of 1 millibar.

Rather than the lengthwise expansion of the tube, which is easily handled by a couple flexible rubber bellows along the way, the bigger proble is keeping all the tube sections aligned axially, with all sorts of wind loads, thermal expansion in the supporting pylons, shifting and moving ground etc. because there's some annoying rattling accelerations involved in going through tube sections that are not quite pointing the same way.

Oct 20, 2016
http://www.spacex...0812.pdf
in the alpha propasal, he says 0.75 torr, which is still 98% of the air is gone. rubber will not hold that kind of vacuum and would act like a balloon. He says tube ends need to be welded together, but highly polished telescoping ends at the end point stations will have to take up the thermal growth. It works probably, but his cost outlines are off, his 4 billion for the tube does not include the cost of the linear motors and solar panels for power. Its going to take a lot of cabbage for this dream.

Oct 20, 2016
Understood on 1torr, but i was more in the direction of mechanically keeping a seal to hold the vacuum. I think you need a decent wall thickness even at 1 torr to prevent 14 lbs per sq inch of force, and you need some flexible material
Youre not an engr are you? Large diameter seals are available for many applications
https://www.fernc...r-series

-and can be custom-designed. Take the ISS for instance.
rubber will not hold that kind of vacuum and would act like a balloon
Like I say, youre not an engr. I wonder what kind of pressure the shuttle booster o rings were designed to?
will have to take up the thermal growth
Ever hear of expansion joints?

Oct 20, 2016
actually ghost i am, just not civil. i'd like to see your expansion joint that has to be 25mm thick of steel( quoted from musk proposal on wall thickness), to handle pressure and weight, 10 feet in diameter, and have 25,000 of them put in line for low cost. musk admits the ends have to be welded together because he knows the costs are huge and would take well over his 20 year estimate to repay any investment. you and i will not see this project in our lifetimes due to the extreme cost. Besides, 2 rounds from a 30-06 rifle will puncture that tube easily at 1 inch of steel and you know those "merica" boyz will try it.

Oct 20, 2016
actually ghost i am, just not civil. i'd like to see your expansion joint that has to be 25mm thick of steel( quoted from musk proposal on wall thickness), to handle pressure and weight, 10 feet in diameter, and have 25,000 of them put in line for low cost. musk admits the ends have to be welded together because he knows the costs are huge and would take well over his 20 year estimate to repay any investment.Besides, 2 rounds from a 30-06 rifle will puncture that tube easily at 1 inch of steel and you know those "merica" boyz will try it.


Better invest in steel now...

Oct 20, 2016
I predict a series of spectacular failures before this works.
Some really fancy crashes is what I mean.

Oct 21, 2016
You can always go for a multi-hull design with stepped pressures between the hulls. The problem materiaqls face is always only due to a pressure _differential_ between inside and outside.

Oct 21, 2016
actually ghost i am, just not civil. i'd like to see your expansion joint that has to be 25mm thick of steel( quoted from musk proposal on wall thickness), to handle pressure and weight, 10 feet in diameter, and have 25,000 of them put in line for low cost. musk admits the ends have to be blah
And so you ought to know just enough to know that you don't know how pressure seals are designed nor do you know how to search the Internet for available products and applications.

But you dont. Elsewhere this is called idiot-savantism.

And BTW why would you think someone like musk would propose such a project if his design proposals didn't include at least preliminary designs and cost analyses of said seals, if such a thing would occur to an idiot savant like yourself after reading the above article for 2 minutes?

Thinking that people like that are that stupid takes a very special kind of stupidity of its own.

Oct 21, 2016
You can always go for a multi-hull design with stepped pressures between the hulls. The problem materiaqls face is always only due to a pressure _differential_ between inside and outside
-says the software engr :-P

Oct 22, 2016
rubber will not hold that kind of vacuum and would act like a balloon.


Not absolutely, but well enough. I think an inch-thick rubber gasket will hold 1 bar of pressure differential without ballooning too much. After all, it only needs to move that 10 ppm per degree at each tube section joint.

If you construct the tube out of short sections that have a small end and a large end - much like household plumbing - then the large end will fit a rubber gasket that doesn't even need to slide against the tube - it can take couple millimeters of expansion and contraction by shear deformation.

Furthermore, if the tube is suspended from pylons and it's following a slightly curved path, then lifting or lowering the "bow" changes its length, and therefore compesates for the expansion. You can also make a slight S curve all along the way by moving some pipe sections a fraction sideways, to take up the slack.

Oct 22, 2016
Not absolutely, but well enough. I think an inch-thick rubber gasket will hold 1 bar of pressure differential without ballooning too much. After all, it only needs to move that 10 ppm per degree at each tube section joint
How about kevlar-reinforced rubber?

Like I say, you guys are fiddling with yourselves. It's embarrassing.

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