Hyperloop startup says superfast rail a reality

August 2, 2017 by Thomas Urbain
A prototype of the Hyperloop One pod, seen in a July file picture, which passed another key milestone in the startup's quest for a near-supersonic transport system

The near-supersonic rail system known as hyperloop has passed another key milestone on its path to become reality, the US startup Hyperloop One said Wednesday.

Hyperloop One, which is developing a theorized by entrepreneur Elon Musk, said that a test last week of a full system at its private facility in the desert near Las Vegas was a success, hitting record speeds.

"That's a huge milestone for us," said Hyperloop One co-founder and executive chairman Shervin Pishevar.

"Now we've shown that the hyperloop actually works. And now this is the dawn of the commercialization of the hyperloop. So from this point on we move to the commercialization process."

During what the startup referred to as Phase 2 testing, a pod fired through a tube depressurized to the equivalent of 200,000 feet (60,000 meters) above sea level reached an unprecedented speed of 192 mph (310 kilometers per hour).

All components were successfully tested, including motors, controls, the vacuum system, and the magnetic levitation that lets pods zip along tracks without touching them, the company said.

"We've proven that our technology works, and we're now ready to enter into discussions with partners, customers and governments around the world about the full commercialization of our Hyperloop technology," said chief executive Rob Lloyd.

Hyperloop One had originally promised a full-scale demonstration by the end of 2016, after a successful test of the propulsion system.

Pishevar said Wednesday that he now sees the system "getting operational in the new few years."

Hyperloop One engineering chief Josh Giegel said the company is now starting "production level development—how we take this prototype and actually scale it to making hundreds or thousands of units and then actually deploying that around the world."

Likely born abroad

The hyperloop system is designed to send pods carrying cargo or people through low-pressure tubes for long distances at passenger jet speeds.

Factfile on the "Hyperloop" transport system theorized by US entrepreneur Elon Musk

Hyperloop One early this year disclosed a list of locations around the world vying to put near-supersonic rail transit system to the test.

Viable submissions had to be condoned by government agencies that would likely be involved in regulating and, ideally, funding the futuristic rail.

It was expected to be several years before a hyperloop system was up and running. The startup set a goal of having one running by 2021.

Pishevar told AFP he expected the first hyperloop system to be built outside the US because "the speed at which other governments work" could be an advantage.

Hyperloop One, which has raised more than $160 million, was set on an idea laid out by billionaire Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind electric car company Tesla and private space exploration endeavor SpaceX.

Pods would rocket along rails through reduced-pressure tubes at speeds of 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) per hour.

Hyperloop One says the system offers better safety than passenger jets, lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed trains, and energy usage, per person, that is similar to a bicycle.

Port colossus DP World Group of Dubai last year invested in the concept, joining backers including French national rail company SNCF, US industrial conglomerate General Electric and Russian state fund RDIF.

Musk's involvement in hyperloop is for now limited to potentially building the tunnels with his latest startup—The Boring Company.

Tunneling is certainly an option, but building hyperloop tubes above ground, perhaps where traditional rail lines already exist, would be faster and cheaper, according to Hyperloop One executives.

Several companies are now exploring the market, including Northeast Maglev, Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

Musk said last month he'd received tentative approval from the government to build a conceptual "hyperloop" system that would blast passenger pods down vacuum-sealed tubes from New York to Washington but stopped short of offering details.

Explore further: Hyperloop startup moves closer to near-supersonic rail

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EmceeSquared
4 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2017
3500 miles NYC/London. Stops in Boston, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Ireland, giving max 2Kmi (2h40m) across the Atlantic or 4h40m nonstop express (instead of 7h by airplane). Extend it 500mi (0h40m) to Munich.

Starting with the DC/Philly/NYC route. Extending another 500mi (0h40m) DC/Atlanta, another 400mi (0h30m) to New Orleans, another 1300mi (1h45min) to Mexico City.

The routes don't have to all be on a Great Circle like that, but it's the shortest tube through some of the best stops. Continuing through Salzburg, Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul, Riyadh.

If they put stops along the way they'll have to bore multiple tubes to leave an express and a "local". I hope they bore dozens of tubes in a bundle.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 02, 2017
Hyperloop depressurized to the equivalent of 200,000 feet (60,000 meters) above sea level...

Mars at (future) sea level is equivalent to the "range of pressures on Earth at altitudes between ~30 km and ~60 km", or 30,000 to 60,000 meters...

-Huh.

I wonder if hes thinking of using these up there -?
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2017
The point of the Hyperloop isn't simply high speed rail. Depressurized tubes allow high speed, but they also allow high fuel efficiency per distance, just like jet planes get in the low-friction stratosphere. 747s burn about 5 gals fuel per mile, but for 400 people that's about 80MPG per person. That's not too different from the most fuel efficient hybrid gasoline cars carrying two people.

So what is the Hyperloop's fuel efficiency? If it's powered by electricity, what's the KWh:mi per 50 passenger car like the one pictured in this article? Electric cars typically use 0.2KWh:mi, so I'd expect a lot less than 5KWh:mi for a 50 passenger "Hypercar".
EmceeSquared
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 02, 2017
TheGhostofOtto1923:[qI wonder if hes thinking of using these up there

Every Musk venture, whether SpaceX, SolarCity, Tesla or the Boring Company, is synergistic with the others for Mars colonization. I expect Neuralink and OpenAI also fit in tightly.
grondilu
3.3 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2017
> lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed trains

What exactly makes them cheaper?? I have hard times figuring how building a near-vacuum tube and magnetic levitation rails can be cheaper than building regular rails and high-voltage cables.
tblakely1357
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2017
Still waiting on fusion power plants.
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2017
EmceeSquared:
So what is the Hyperloop's fuel efficiency?


The article does say "Hyperloop One says the system offers better safety than passenger jets, lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed trains, and energy usage, per person, that is similar to a bicycle." Bicycling consumes about 100W. If each car carries 50 people as I guesstimate, that's 5KW. At 750MPH, that's 5KWh for 750mi, 0.007KWh:mi. That's 3.3% of an electric car that carries 2 people (so 6.6% per person). A 777 at 5 gals kerosene per mile uses (some fraction for propulsion, the rest is wasted) about 0.5KWh per person per mile, so Hyperloop claims to be about 1.4% of that.

It doesn't actually seem credible. But if it's true, or anywhere close, it will indeed revolutionize transit - far more than independent electric vehicles will. More on energy and emissions than speed, though it sure is speedy.
EmceeSquared
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2017
I wonder whether recent developments in avoiding sonic booms could yield Hyperloops faster than 750MPH (Mach 0.977).
http://www.machinedesign.com/defense/supersonic-flight-overcoming-sonic-boom
Captain Stumpy
2.7 / 5 (3) Aug 03, 2017
Depressurized tubes allow high speed, but they also allow high fuel efficiency per distance,
i am just gonna wait and watch, especially considering the engineering problems with making such a huge depressurized tube

i've seen some of the tests and not been impressed

plus, that length of tube or tunnel, with vacuum pumps... it's not only costly, but i really want to know where the time savings will be if it takes as long as it did during the tests to depressurize the tube in order to get moving?

those tests were in very short tubes

so if it works, i'll be pleasantly surprised
until i see it working... meh
xponen
5 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2017
@grondilu
I read that Hyperloop's magnetic rail is not powered, and the magnets on the vehicle is permanent and isn't powered either! this is very different than existing maglev which uses powered rails & which require access to grid power. What Hyperloop did is to induce magnetism/eddy-current on the rails, (the rail) which consist of customised electromagnet coils, by sliding the magnets, (the magnets) which is attached to the vehicle, across the rail. Which mean, the vehicle experience a 'lift' once it start moving, and the 'lift' reduce the friction significantly and allowed the vehicle to coast with minimal energy.

Why is it cheaper? because, if you think about "what is analogous to Hyperloop?", then a regular train using non-electrified rails is similar to Hyperloop. The vehicle carries its own batteries, and the rail is non-electrified, so, to build the rail should be simpler than building traditional Maglev's rail..
John1948
3 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2017
hype check - 750 mph is Mach 1 at sea level. At the pressures talked about, you go supersonic quite a bit slower - 600 to 650. And supersonic is probably a whole extra challenge

reality check - It's going to need a lot of testing before regulators allow passengers (or I want to ride on it)- one solution might be to build it big enough to take freight containers so it can make big bucks being tested.

having said all this - it's the next transport revolution
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2017
The original hyperloop concept was about using the tube loop to contain a moving mass of air at low pressure, that would keep circling around the tube, and the pods would be injected into the airstream at speed to be carried along.

The point was to collect energy from various intermittent power sources into the moving mass of air, and so achieve very low energy costs by collecting the throw-away from the renewable industry.

Now it seems they're putting fans and compressors on the pod itself, which signals a major shift in goalposts and plans.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2017
so, to build the rail should be simpler than building traditional Maglev's rail..


Its not only simpler, it's economically possible. Regular maglev tracks use so much copper or aluminium per mile that they're simply infeasible over any greater distance.

The longest maglev tracks in existence are less than 50 km, and the longest in proposal between Tokyo and Osaka is about 500 km at a pricetag of $112 billion.
xponen
not rated yet Aug 03, 2017
Now it seems they're putting fans and compressors on the pod itself, which signals a major shift in goalposts and plans.

The companies that build Hyperloop One made design alteration, it won't use fan & compressor on the vehicle anymore. Here is the design that applies to current Hyperloop One; https://www.youtu...tHvyvV7k
promptcritical
5 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2017
I wonder what the pumping losses are in evacuating the tubes. Hard to believe it could be safer than airline travel.
Dingbone
Aug 06, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Aug 06, 2017

Its not only simpler, it's economically possible. Regular maglev tracks use so much copper or aluminium per mile that they're simply infeasible over any greater distance.
@Eikka
you're saying it's going to be more feasible than building a vacuum tube the same distance?

you know, considering your thoughts on just the EV alone, i would have thought you would be more skeptical of this project. i surely didn't expect to see Zeph presenting a better case, but you can see it above!

you said yourself "The longest maglev tracks in existence are less than 50 km"
... so now look up the longest vacuum tube track

now consider the safety parameters: if the maglev quits working, gets violated (breaks track integrity) what happens?
if the vacuum tube quits working or gets violated (vacuum/tube integrity), what happens?

i hope for the best... but i am just gonna wait and watch, especially considering the engineering problems with making such a huge depressurized tube
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2017
Dingbone:
Mostly Hype


That article is some garbage opinion piece by Leon Vanstone, "a rocket scientist and aerodynamic engineer", with no credential in civil engineering or transit - and who knows how good a scientist and engineer they are in the other fields. He's a "rocket scientist" in that he's an academic postdoc student with a couple publications on hypersonic flight, scramjet research:
http://www.vansto...ication/

He actually makes the case at the end of his article for transit tunnels within/beneath cities, asking why focus on intracity instead. Well, of course the answer is because there are paying projects for intracity. Also intracity has more existing infrastructure and competitive ownerships. People who want to pay for intracity will pay for it regardless of whether some other application might be even better, but not for them. That doesn't mean intracity isn't worth doing. Purely fallacious argument from the "scientist".

continued...
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2017
...continued

Vanstone's direct argument is that a 200 mile tunnel for 29 minute trips NYC/DC is probably prohibitively expensive. He implies that Musk cannot "quickly and concurrently mature two, completely undeveloped ideas in parallel" (without Vanstone specifying those ideas) - why not? He's done so in Solar City's leased PV, Tesla's EVs and SpaceX's relaunched drone rockets, which are three ideas in parallel that will dovetail on Mars but weren't even developed for a single project. Why not two ideas for a single project here on Earth? Garbage argument.

continued...
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2017
...continued

Vanstone cites 90 minute NYC/DC flights as the baseline Hyperloop improves, but they're not. Closer are the Acela NYC/DC trains at 165 minutes - 5.7x as long as Hyperloop. NYC/DC airports require at least 45 minutes before the flights, usually 60-90, plus security delays, road traffic: more like 170-200+ minutes, 6-7x Hyperloop.

Those aren't merely quantitatively faster, but a qualitatively a different category, like a subway hop downtown, which is transformative not incremental.

Then the possibility of multiple tubes, which Acela can't do with surface right-of-way. Or packing the tubes with multiple cars separated by only braking distance. Airports aren't expanding either, and the NYC/DC airspace is pretty full, but lots of shared tunnels could multiply the route capacity far beyond 20th Century limits. Especially as NYC/DC continues to go "megalopolis", it's exactly the "within/beneath a single city" Vanstone explicitly approves.

continued...
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2017
...continued

Vanstone is also wrong about the economics he's most clearly saying is "prohibitive". Somehow 50K passengers a day * 260 biz days a year * 61 minutes saved = 12 million minutes, but that's actually 793M minutes, 66x as much not much of a rocket scientist or aeronautical engineer, is he?

He underestimates the time Hyperloop would save vs airplanes, which is more like 170 minutes per trip (not 60), so over 36.8M hours saved annually. Acela passengers are earning probably an annual average of $150K+, = over $72:h, so about $2.652B saved annually. Even if NYC/DC cost 4x the LA/SF example Vanstone cites it would pay back in under 10 years, which is a phenomenal return (10% ROI on a $24B project, more please). But the Stockholm/Helsinki Hyperloop (including undersea!) is cost projected at $40M:mi, which NY/DC at 204 miles would cost $8.16B - about 3 years payback, 32.5% ROI. Invest that all over the country, including LA/SF/HI/Guam and Seattle/Juneau.

continued...
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (2) Aug 06, 2017
...continued

Most importantly, the Hyperloop is far more energy efficient than that, as I calculated earlier
https://phys.org/news/2017-08-hyperloop-startup-superfast-rail-reality.html#cm_1496784
it could be 1.4% airplane fuel's energy cost. Musk's Solar City could provide emissions-free power for Hyperloop, and other emissions are much more easily captured and recycled than airplanes in the stratosphere (where the emissions are far more harmful, especially particulates).

That efficiency will be far cheaper than airplanes over a couple-few decades operation, so probably multiplying the ROI. And these machines seem much simpler to maintain than aircraft, despite needing pumps, so they're probably even cheaper. Plus they can be American labor, even if highly automated.

continued...
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2017
...continued

So Dingbone you've once again pulled some unqualified, fallacious troll complaint against transformative innovation. Please apply some critical thinking before you pump these discussions full of outsourced wrong answers. Correcting them is tedious, though enlightening. Really you should be doing that homework yourself.
xponen
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2017
Fuel efficiency is the often overlooked aspect of Hyperloop. The amount of power produced by a single turbine used on a commercial airliner is equivalent to the power consumption of a single town! Meanwhile, a Hyperloop car could zip to a supersonic speed by just relying on battery power. That's AMAZING!

Even if the vacuum on Hyperloop fail, it only slowdown the vehicle... there's no issue there. The vacuum is what you pay to reach supersonic speed, I don't think it's more power consuming than running a jet turbine continuously.
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2017
xponen:
Fuel efficiency is the often overlooked aspect of Hyperloop.


And electricity is the direct output of many renewable generators, like solar PV and wind. More efficiency by avoided transformation waste, but more importantly more reliable demand (train schedules) for renewables (so more Power Purchase Agreements to finance them).

Even if the vacuum on Hyperloop fail, it only slowdown the vehicle


Yeah, and not all of the tubes necessarily need to be near-vacuum (0.07 atmospheres) all the time. Just boring lots of freight tubes for 100MPH would be great progress. Use them for "local" (100-200Km intracity) vs express (trans- continental/oceanic), and for freight, and for maintenance.

The biggest container ship (the OOCL Hong Kong) carries 21,413 max TEU, which would be under 140Km end to end. NYC/London is 5576Km, so about 40 OOCL-HKs long. At even 50MPH (80KPH) that's 70h, under 3 days. The OOCL Hong Kong makes that run in 17 days, 24x as long.
Steelwolf
not rated yet Aug 09, 2017
Running tubes along existing railway easings and similar for along the high tension power line corridors would be a good answer to where to put these. I find that the idea of tube travel is OK, as long as the tube itself is not underground. I would want an ability to be able to leave the capsule/tube in an emergency and if it is underground, and under partial vacuum, then survival for extended periods for rescue would be severely problematic.

Running the tubes in pairs, perhaps one above the other, or along side of each other (stacked would take less easement) on the surface would allow and emergency egress at many points along the way should there be an emergency shutdown.

Part of how these capsules move is simply air pressure behind them, passive magnets on capsule and rails give levitation, but no drive to them. Air pressure behind the capsule will propell it forward, vacuum in front helps to 'pull' it along as well. Building on surface also allows for solar energy collection.
EmceeSquared
not rated yet Aug 09, 2017
Steelwolf:
Running tubes along existing railway easings and similar for along the high tension power line corridors


Most existing railway rights of way have existing railways. Reclaiming abandoned ones would bring a very noisy machine to what is now mostly very quiet, though in many cases quite near human housing.

Solar collectors can provide energy via drilled wells to an underground tunnel. There's probably air pumps regularly along the route at which other infrastructure like power supplies will be installed.
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 24, 2017
you're saying it's going to be more feasible than building a vacuum tube the same distance?


I was commenting on the track within the tube, not on the tube itself.

The original hyperloop proposal was a passive electrodynamic suspension system that doesn't necessarily consume any power to levitate the pod as long as it's moving along - aside for the magnetic drag it generates.

The main difference to maglev is the propulsion system. Maglev has propulsion coils along the track - it's a very long linear motor - whereas the hyperloop pod is (was supposed to) be pushed along by the extremely fast flow of low pressure air. The pod doesn't propel itself.

The original idea was that the pod is shot up to speed by a stationary linear motor at one end, and then it just coasts along in the airstream which is enough to overcome the magnetic bearing drag. The newer sketches are deviating further and further from that idea, to the point they're not really "hyperloop" anymore.

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