Hyperloop Technologies, which is building a super-fast transportation solution based on an idea by billionaire Elon Musk, is in initial talks with the Indian government and companies to partially build and operate the vehicle on some routes, its chief executive officer said.
Hyperloop One, will decide by end of this year whether its feasible to run the vehicle in India after studying the market, Rob Lloyd said in an interview in New Delhi. The company will locally source a significant part of the components including steel if it decides to move ahead with the plan.
India has the world’s second-biggest population and seventh biggest land mass, is struggling to match infrastructure growth with rapid urbanization. Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to spend a record 3.96 trillion rupees ($59 billion) to build and modernize its railways, airports and roads, as the country seeks to improve its facilities to attract companies to invest in the country.
Few cities in the world are urbanizing more rapidly than New Delhi. Taxis, motorcycles, and tuk tuks weave around one another in a chorus of horns and signals, only occasionally following the road’s designated lanes. New housing construction is visible throughout, as the local development authority steps up project development and financing in target neighborhoods. In the early hours, a haze descends upon the city, a mixture of morning light and the trapped particulates of a metropolis growing by more than 70 people per hour.
The ancient Mughal capital hosted Hyperloop One’s “Vision for India” showcase on February 28. This was Hyperloop One’s official launch into a country of more than 1.3 billion. The event convened India’s five semifinalist teams from the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, along with a roster of government officials, media, urbanists, and transportation specialists. On the top floor of the Taj Mansingh Hotel and in between rounds of chai, the question on everyone’s mind was: how will India seize its metropolitan moment?
The Global Challenge teams made the case for their proposals to bring Hyperloop to their communities. Hyperloop India, a vibrant team made up of students from the country’s leading universities, kicked things off by making their case for connecting Mumbai to Chennai via Bangalore. The east-west link would tie together three of India’s dynamic metropolitan areas and two of its major ports, and establish a system of cities that includes Pune, Kolhapur, Hubli-Dharwad, Tumakuru, Vellore, and Sriperumbudur. Dinclix Groundworks, a trio of IT professionals hailing from Indore, proposed connecting Mumbai to Delhi, effectively merging India’s two megacities. LUX Hyperloop Network, from the state of Kerala in southwest India, offered to link the lush capital city of Thiruvananthapuram to Bangalore. Infi Alpha and AECOM India both proposed to join Bangalore to Chennai to coordinate economic and spatial development along the Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor.
A crucial takeaway from India for the Hyperloop One team was the unique administrative and regulatory challenges we face in India. For example, a 2013 act requires 70% approval of land owners (and 80% of private entities) for a public private partnership to be executed. Decision-making is also stratified in India, with state governments exercising a degree of control that is at times at odds with the central government. Even collecting data can be difficult. Yutika Vora, founder of the Nagrika Policy Research Foundation, an organization researching India’s small and intermediate cities, described the difficulty in gathering accurate data on cities that are changing so quickly.
The Hyperloop concept operates by sending specially designed “capsules” or “pods” through a continuous steel tube maintained at a partial vacuum. In Musk’s original concept, each capsule floats on a 0.02–0.05 in (0.5–1.3 mm) layer of air provided under pressure to air-caster “skis”, similar to how pucks are suspended in an air hockey table, while still allowing for speeds that wheels cannot sustain. Hyperloop One’s technology uses passive maglev for the same purpose. Linear induction motors located along the tube would accelerate and decelerate the capsule to the appropriate speed for each section of the tube route. With rolling resistance eliminated and air resistance greatly reduced, the capsules can glide for the bulk of the journey. In Musk’s original Hyperloop concept, an electrically driven inlet fan and air compressor would be placed at the nose of the capsule to “actively transfer high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel,” resolving the problem of air pressure building in front of the vehicle, slowing it down. A fraction of the air is shunted to the skis for additional pressure, augmenting that gain passively from lift due to their shape. Hyperloop One’s system does away with the compressor.
In September 2013, Ansys Corporation ran computational fluid dynamics simulations to model the aerodynamics of the capsule and shear stress forces that the capsule would be subjected to. The simulation showed that the capsule design would need to be significantly reshaped to avoid creating supersonic airflow, and that the gap between the tube wall and capsule would need to be larger. Ansys employee Sandeep Sovani said the simulation showed that Hyperloop has challenges but that he is convinced it is feasible.
In October 2013, the development team of the OpenMDAO software framework released an unfinished, conceptual open-source model of parts of the Hyperloop’s propulsion system. The team asserted that the model demonstrated the concept’s feasibility, although the tube would need to be 13 feet (4 meters) in diameter, significantly larger than originally projected. However, the team’s model is not a true working model of the propulsion system, as it did not account for a wide range of technological factors required to physically construct a Hyperloop based on Musk’s concept, and in particular had no significant estimations of component weight.
In November 2013, MathWorks analyzed the proposal’s suggested route and concluded that the route was mainly feasible. The analysis focused on the acceleration experienced by passengers and the necessary deviations from public roads in order to keep the accelerations reasonable; it did highlight that maintaining a trajectory along I-580 east of San Francisco at the planned speeds was not possible without significant deviation into heavily populated areas.
In January 2015, a paper based on the NASA OpenMDAO open-source model reiterated the need for a larger diameter tube and a reduced cruise speed closer to Mach 0.85. It recommended removing on-board heat exchangers based on thermal models from the interactions between the compressor cycle, tube, and ambient environment. The compression cycle would only contribute 5% of the heat added to the tube, with 95% of the heat attributed to radiation and convection into the tube. The weight and volume penalty of on-board heat exchangers would not be worth the minor benefit, and regardless the steady-state temperature in the tube would only reach 30–40 °F (17–22 °C) above ambient temperature.
According to Musk, various aspects of the hyperloop have technology applications to other Musk interests, including surface transportation on Mars and electric jet propulsion.
On May 11, 2016 Hyperloop One conducted the first live trial of Hyperloop technology, demonstrating that its custom linear electric motor could propel a sled from 0 to 110 miles an hour in just over one second. The acceleration exerted approximately 2.5 G on the bogie. The bogie was stopped at the end of the test by hitting a pile of sand at the end of the track because Hyperloop One has not yet designed the brakes for the system.
In July 2016, Hyperloop One released a preliminary study that suggested a Hyperloop connection between Helsinki and Stockholm would be feasible, reducing the travel time between the cities to half an hour. The construction costs were estimated by Hyperloop One to be around €19 billion (US$21 billion at 2016 exchange rates).
In November 2016, Hyperloop One disclosed that it has established a high-level working group relationship with the governments of Finland and the Netherlands to study the viability of building Hyperloop proof of operations centers in those countries. Hyperloop One also has a feasibility study underway with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority for passenger systems in the UAE. Other feasibility studies are underway in Russia, Los Angeles and Switzerland.
* Lower cost
* More convenient
* Immune to weather
* Sustainably self-powering
* Resistant to Earthquakes
* Not disruptive to those along the route
Overcoming the Kantrowitz Limit
Whenever you have a capsule or pod (I am using the words interchangeably) moving at high speed through a tube containing air, there is a minimum tube to pod area ratio below which you will choke the flow. What
this means is that if the walls of the tube and the capsule are too close together, the capsule will behave like a syringe and eventually be forced to push the entire column of air in the system. Not good.
Nature’s top speed law for a given tube to pod are a ratio is known as the Kantrowitz limit. This is highly problematic, as it forces you to either go slowly or have a super huge diameter tube. Interestingly, there are usually two solutions to the Kantrowitz limit
1) where you go slowly
2) where you go really, really fast.
The latter solution sounds mighty appealing at first, until you realize that going several thousand miles per hour means that you can’t tolerate even wide turns without painful g loads. For a journey from San Francisco to LA, you will also experience a rather intense speed up and slow down. And, when you get right
down to it, going through transonic buffet in a tube is just fundamentally a dodgy prospect.
Both for trip comfort and safety, it would be best to travel at high subsonic speeds for a 350 mile journey. For much longer journeys, such as LA to NY, it would be worth exploring super high speeds and this is probably technically feasible, but, as mentioned above, I believe the economics would probably favor a supersonic plane.
The approach that I believe would overcome the Kantrowitz limit is to mount an electric compressor fan on the nose of the pod that actively transfers high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel. This is like having a pump in the head of the syringe actively relieving pressure.
It would also simultaneously solve another problem, which is how to create a low friction suspension system when traveling at over 700 mph. Wheels don’t work very well at that sort of speed, but a cushion of air does. Air bearings, which use the same basic principle as an air hockey table, have been demonstrated to work at speeds of Mach 1.1 with very low friction. In this case, however, it is the pod that is producing the air cushion, rather than the tube, as it is important to make the tube as low cost and simple as possible.
That then begs the next question of whether a battery can store enough energy to power a fan for the length of the journey with room to spare. Based on our calculations, this is no problem, so long as the energy used to accelerate the pod is not drawn from the battery pack.
This is where the external linear electric motor comes in, which is simply a round induction motor (like the one in the Tesla Model S) rolled flat. This would accelerate the pod to high subsonic velocity and provide a periodic reboost roughly every 70 miles. The linear electric motor is needed for as little as ~1% of the tube length, so is not particularly costly.
Existing conventional modes of transportation of people consists of four unique types: rail, road, water, and air. These modes of transport tend to be either relatively slow (i.e., road and water), expensive (i.e., air), or a combination of relatively slow and expensive (i.e., rail). Hyperloop is a new mode of transport that seeks to change this paradigm by being both fast and inexpensive for people and goods. Hyperloop is also unique in that it is an open des ign concept , similar to Linux. Feedback is desired from the community that can help advance the Hyperloop design and bring it from concept to reality. Hyperloop consists of a low pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. The capsules are supported on a cushion of air, featuring pressurized air and aerodynamic lift. The capsules are accelerated via a magnetic linear accelerator affixed at various stations on the low pressure tube with rotors contained in each capsule. Passengers may enter and exit Hyperloop at stations located either at the ends of the tube, or branches along the tube length.
SOURCES- Hyperloop One, Tesla Motors
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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