Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Hyperloop: Solar Powered Rapid Transportation

The Hyperloop is a solar powered ultra high speed transportation system. It involves wheel-less capsule shaped cars in a low-pressure tube that travels at speeds up to 800 miles an hours.

The capsules ride a cushion of air blasted from “skis” beneath, propelled via a magnetic linear accelerator. What makes this project standout is the fact that it is powered by renewable energy, it is cost effective and perhaps most importantly, it is fast.

The travel time between San Francisco and Los Angeles is estimated to be around 30 minutes for the Hyperloop. This compares very favorably with other forms of ground transportation. The trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles takes about 5.5 hours by car and about 2.7 hours via California’s planned high-speed rail.

The Hyperloop project is the brainchild of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who is the founder and CEO of the Electric car company Tesla Motors Inc and rocket manufacturer SpaceX. Musk unveiled this revolutionary transportation concept on August 12, 2013.  

The Hyperloop project as proposed by Musk would run on the busiest corridor in the West, the 400 mile stretch between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It would be suspended from pylons built alongside Interstate 5 and 580 eliminating the need to buy land. Capsules containing up to 28 people would leave the station every 30 seconds and each year the novel concept could transport 7.4 million people each way. It is expected to take 7 to 10 years to complete.

According to Musk the costs of building the Hyperloop is less than 6 billion which is far less than the state's high-speed rail project which is now estimated at 68 billion. The Hyperloop would be safer, faster, less expensive and more convenient than the train project, Musk said in a blog post. Ticket prices are projected to be $20 for a one way ticket.

The solar panels mounted on the roof mean that the project will require no outside sources of power. As explained by Musk “There is way more surface area on the top of the tube than you need [to power the Hyperloop]...You would have more power than you could possibly consume.”

Building the Hyperloop on top of pylons that run parallel to an existing interstate would minimize environmental impacts and make it more earthquake resistant.

This is the kind of innovation that drives sustainability.

For more information click here to access the 57-page alpha white paper.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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