A Hypothetical Ride On A Future Vehicle

8/21/2019 11:06:46 PM


One Of the Breakthroughs in Transportation, Probably?

Transportation is the key to our survival, to develop civilization and economic growth. Now time, most vehicles depend on oil productions, which we all know burn faster that we can pull them out of the ground. We already are facing major problems with traffic on earth surface and probably with air traffic once flying cars and electric airplanes are in mass order. What will happen after that?

Probably a breakthrough in transportation and one of the greatest ideas that addresses problems with transportation is the Hyperloop technology".

The ambitious idea goes back to 150 years ago, when Isambard Kingdom Brunel chief engineer in the Great Western Railway of Britain tried to use atmospheric power to push forward carriages by pressurized air, creating vacuum through a pumping station every 3 miles along the road. Unfortunately, the leather flaps that kept the vacuums airtight failed to stop the leakage and the grand project was finally abandoned. Yet, well over a century later and when Elon Musk conceived the HyperloopHyperloop idea in 2012 it was not quite different from the Brunel’s air-fueled railway. A Hyperloop train basically decreases friction and air resistance - which are main sources for energy waste in most vehicles - by floating the passenger pods! Air pressure inside the floating tubes of a Hyperloop would be equivalent to that in 200,000 feet above the sea level, somehow like moving on an air hockey table! The vehicle would then use electric propulsion and magnetic levitation to speed up.

By using Hyperloop train you are able to arrive at destination in minute’s scales rather than hours, reaching the speed of 1,200 km/h that could cover the distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco in only 35 minutes.

Unfortunately, the estimated price was so high that the concept stayed open as a hypothetical project and yet sparked many intentions to develop this technology. The virgin Hyperloop one (one of the biggest companies working on Hyperloop) recently made advancements as constructing a full scale test track in France, hoping to bring the first Hyperloop into operation by 2021.

What Are The Dangers A Hyperloop Train Can Face?

The tube operates at nearly perfect vacuum of 100 Pascals’. To compare, large airlines fly at altitudes with more than 200 times air pressure than in that Hyperloop capsules.

The truth is that even before we travel in the tubes there is a big challenge about pressure as it should support the weight of the entire atmosphere that is 10,000 kilograms per meter square. Let’s say we made our way through generating this amount of negative pressure. Still there is a big difference between pressure on earth and the pressure inside the tube. If the tube became punctured, external air would leak into the tube, tearing it apart as it violently rushes in to fill the void. Risking lives on a puncture in a tube…Don’t worry! Trust engineers! They are bringing space technology to earth to tackle that!

Let’s Say Air Find A Way To Leak Inside The Tube And Doesn’t Crash The Passengers Pod Into Pieces. What’s Next?

A cross section of the pod is approximately three square meters. With the force of 10,000 kg per meter squared and the weight of approximately 4 tons and using simple physics, the pod will accelerate 7.5 meters per second squared and that’s just the acceleration of the pod and not the probable collision. The Hyperloop system by HTT – an American research company- consists of large tubes made of steel and concrete. Steel is strong enough to keep the ideal vacuum but it also has a weakness point and that’s the thermal expansion rate. So if opt to use expansion joints a Hyperloop will generally require joints every 100 meters, which means about 6000 moving vacuum seals between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Impractical! How should we make this come true?  

If you visualize cars flying above your head or maybe a kind of "car.boat.airplane" vehicle parked across your door step or maybe "vertical-takeoff airplanes" and "flying delivery drones", it may actually come true in just the matter of days or months! Don’t get shocked if someone says a new Hyperloop would be ready to use in 2 months in your own home town! Just remember not to be the first one to try!

By Pegah Khayatan

BSc in electrical Engineering

Amirkabir University


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