what is a hyperloop elon muskWhat is Hyperloop?

Hyperloop is a conceptual – soon to be a reality – transportation system proposed by billionaire Elon Musk (SpaceX and electric vehicle Tesla Motors founder). In Elon Musk’s words: “Hyperloop is a system to build a tube under or above the ground surface which will contain a special environment.” This special environment could be due to vacuum or high-speed compressed air or electromagnetic suspension.

Musk says that the Hyperloop will be best served in high-traffic city pairs which are less than 900 miles or 1,500 km apart. Back in 2013, he proposed a paper describing the same and talked about the possible implications involved.

What are the advantages of hyperloop?

Musk calls hyperloop a transportation which will be better than “flying or driving.” Compared to the present alternatives, it will be a lot faster, cheaper and safer. It will be immune to weather, sustainably self-powering and without any disruptions.

What is the biggest challenge and ways to overcome it?

The biggest challenge that must be overcome is the Kantrowitz limit. Musk explains it as the top speed law for the tube-to-pod area ratio. It means – for a vehicle moving into a tube filled with tube, there should be some minimum distance between walls of tube and vehicle. Otherwise, the system will behave like a syringe and it’ll push the entire air column out of the system.

Musk aims to put an electric compressor fan on the nose of the capsule which will force the high-pressure air to move from the front to the end of  the vehicle. This will reduce the friction.

Musk's hyperloop conceptual design sketch
Musk’s conceptual design sketch

What will be its cost?

The estimated cost reaches up to several billion dollars. The hyperloop capsules will cost several hundred million dollars. Building a tube instead of railways has advantages like there’s no need of fencing, it is less noisy and it can be built on pylons – so the cost of land bought could be minimized.

How will it be powered?

Musk says that the solar panels will be placed on the top of the tube and it will provide enough power to keep the vehicles running. Elon Musk is partnering with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies to make this a reality.

Via: Elon Musk’s hyperloop proposal paper. Download it here.

Here’s some latest new about the latest developments being made: