A startup company called Hyperloop Technologies is trying to develop Elon Musks Hyperloop transportation system. They aveg $100 million of venture capital.
Josh Giegel, vice president of design and analysis at Hyperloop Tech indicates they have developed a tube, robots, a length of track, and various pieces of the electromagnetic propulsion system. A couple of hundred miles away, 2,000 feet of track in the Nevada desert is being readied for a public test of the track and electromagnetic propulsion system.
Two-year-old Hyperloop Tech has already grown from a handful of engineers in a garage to 140 people across three acres of old industrial buildings near downtown Los Angeles, plus a patch of desert in North Las Vegas.
Hyperloop Tech’s growth is impressive and they are far ahead of a competitor, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which is funded by donations.
Beyond the steel tubes and welding robots, there’s a wind tunnel, a huge pressurized chamber called the levitation rig, and an even bigger vacuum tube (appropriately dubbed the Big Tube) for testing the full set of Hyperloop components. A block of electromagnets are floating a large, flat steel square a foot or so in the air. It hovers there stiffly, so stiffly that even when you press down on it very hard, it does not budge. This was a demonstration of the Hyperloop’s shock absorption system.
This device is used to test the levitation system needed to lift up Hyperloop capsules.
A rendering of a Hyperloop pod carrying a shipping container.
Hyperloop Tech engineers are tweaking Musk’s original plan, which imagined solar cells atop the tubes feeding energy to acceleration points every 40 or 50 miles where pods would get an extra magnetic shove. In between, pods could coast without much slowing down thanks to their air cushion and low pressure in the tube reducing friction (a well-designed braking system could reclaim energy when it was time to slow down). But counting on solar energy to deliver the sudden bursts of power to the acceleration magnets doesn’t look practical for all places or weather conditions. And Hyperloop Tech claims to be in talks with governments and businesses “all around the world.” The company is designing the Hyperloop to use any power source.
Rob Lloyd, Hyperloop Tech’s CEO, said “The first test was”—he checks his watch—“a few hours ago. This morning [in the middle of April 2016]. In May, 2016 they expect to be running the test sled down the test track at speeds of more than 400 miles per hour. By the end of the year, they plan to break 700 miles per hour.
Airlines expend a tremendous amount of energy getting up to 30,000 feet and don’t recapture any of it on the way back down. The low pressure inside Hyperloop Tech’s tubes aims to replicate the atmospheric drag at about 160,000 feet. The company calculates that the magnetic boosts required every 40 miles or so will allow a Hyperloop to be more efficient than rail can be at very high speeds.
Freight rail in the U.S. is already quite profitable and efficient (Warren Buffett invests heavily in it). But a high-speed freight backbone—broadband for goods—linking major population centers could make economic sense
SOURCES – Technology Review