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Old May 14th, 2013, 10:35 PM   #1
AnOldBlackMarble
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Elon Musk's Hyperloop, what do you think?

I just came across this today, and I find the mystery quite intriguing.
Quote:
Hyperloop: Billionaire Tech Mogul's New Idea Could Revolutionize Travel Forever

On the assumption that people will be living on earth for some time, Musk is cooking up plans for something he calls the Hyperloop. He won't share specifics but says it's some sort of tube capable of taking someone from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes. He calls it a "fifth mode of transportation"--the previous four being train, plane, automobile, and boat. "What you want is something that never crashes, that’s at least twice as fast as a plane, that's solar powered and that leaves right when you arrive, so there is no waiting for a specific departure time," Musk says. His friends claim he's had a Hyperloop technological breakthrough over the summer. "I'd like to talk to the governor and president about it," Musk continues. "Because the $60 billion bullet train they're proposing in California would be the slowest bullet train in the world at the highest cost per mile. They're going for records in all the wrong ways." The cost of the SF-LA Hyperloop would be in the $6 billion range, he says.
source
...and here's the wiki on the Hyperloop.

Has anyone come across this before and thought what it could be? I think the most important points are that IT IS NOT a vacuum tube, and that it is ALWAYS ON, using very little energy while being able to generate its own energy even beyond its own consumption.

My guesses is that it would be a closed looping tube with pressure differentials from one end to the other. If it is made of transparent material that can be dimmed, like Smart Glass, then several miles of one end can be made opaque, to block out the sun, while the other end stays transparent. The opaque end remains at equilibrium temp with outside, while the transparent end heats up creating a pressure differential. Then by doing this back and forth between the two ends, and with well calculated locations for ventilation vents, you would establish a "wind cycle" within the tube, like the cycle of an electric motor. You could maintain the "wind" moving perpetually this way while added solar panels could power wind generators to ad a "boost" to the system in bad weather and at night. This way the "pods" would travel with the air, so no air resistance, and it might not even need a track, if the tube is slightly oval, and certainly no complex and expensive mag-lev tracks.

This is my best guess from his description, and I'm curious to see what other people think.

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Old May 16th, 2013, 03:32 PM   #2
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how do you keep the pods level and how do you make sure the acceleration/deceleration is even and not sudden? how do you stop the pods from crashing into each other inside the tube?

I'm thinking it should still be maglev just not as big as a vacuum tube maglev train, meaning it should have a diameter to suit a pod that can seat 3 ppl instead of 4 ppl and a row

smaller diameter is key
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Old May 16th, 2013, 10:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gramercy View Post
how do you keep the pods level and how do you make sure the acceleration/deceleration is even and not sudden? how do you stop the pods from crashing into each other inside the tube?
Good questions.

For the system to work the pods would have to fit snugly into the tube so that the air pressure can move them. This means no air could pass around them, so this would create an air barrier/cushion between each pod thus no chance of them running into one another. Also if the tubes and pods are slightly oval than the pods can NOT "twist" within the tube so they would stay as level as the tube is constructed.

As for acceleration and deceleration, the tube would need separate on-ramps and off-ramps that enter into, and exit out, of the main "loop". In the loop the air is always moving. If the on-ramp comes into the "loop" at about a 25degree angle from parallel into the direction with the wind, the wind itself would create a "suction effect" drawing the pod into the wind. The acceleration would not be instantaneous. Plus it could be controlled at the "merge" by how much the "doors" to the loop are open. Fully opened doors would create a tremendous suction inside the on-ramp tubes, but if the doors are opened gradually than the "suction effect" would also be gradual. Also the on-ramp itself would probably need to have some "prop-vents" to generate more pressure especially near the "merge" to push the pods at speed so there is no jerking motion upon entering the loop. And the exit would work the opposite. A 25degree angle out of the direction of the wind so that the pod would be "spit out", and then once the "doors" to the exit are closed, with no more pressure behind the pod, the friction alone would slow it down. And the on-and-off-ramps can be as long as they need to be, one, two, or three miles, even more so that would mean very gradual acceleration and deacceleration.

Quote:
I'm thinking it should still be maglev just not as big as a vacuum tube maglev train, meaning it should have a diameter to suit a pod that can seat 3 ppl instead of 4 ppl and a row

smaller diameter is key
The only reason I don't think it will be a maglev is due to energy requirements. Maglev requires a lot of power and according to Musk his system is extremely energy efficient, even possibly producing more energy than it consumes. That is impossible with a maglev. Mass is mass, and to move an entire, several-thousand tone train you need a lot of energy. Photovoltaic cells are still very inefficient otherwise they would be powering trains already. So the only other alternative I can think of, especially in a closed tubular loop like he describes, is using pressure differential, and the heat from the sun is easy "free" energy that would create a massive pressure differential. It would be more than enough to move the mass of a full train, or smaller pods, through the loop with no problem. The photovoltaic system he mentions would be needed to power the control mechanisms such as opening and closing vents to release or increase pressure at critical points, and the mechanism for for directing pods/trains into on and off ramps, and the closing and opening of the "doors" between ramps and loop.

So for the system to work the way he describes it, the main bulk of energy that moves the mass, would have to come "naturally" somehow if his "hyperloop" can actually generate energy as he claims. I think what I described so far fits the required criteria pretty good. But I'm open to any other suggestions or criticisms.

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Old May 17th, 2013, 01:22 AM   #4
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Just make this already:

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Old May 17th, 2013, 01:57 AM   #5
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Some concept images of it after searching:





It seems like it might be a little based off of this:



A continuous circuit with these "pods" able to travel through it, and enter/leave at certain stations.
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Old May 17th, 2013, 03:02 AM   #6
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Hmm, sounds very interesting. Can't wait to hear more details!
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Old May 17th, 2013, 12:11 PM   #7
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Interesting idea, but I still think a frictionless Maglev tube with even higher speeds is the future for cross-continental tubes.

Make very small pods for literally 2-6 people, make the tube as small as possible, forget about incorporating other tubular infrastructure into it (except where it requires long tunnels and bridges), make it as compact as possible and then watch the LA-NYC time drop to an hour
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Old May 18th, 2013, 11:03 AM   #8
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There was a concept very similar to Elon's one year ago. I'll post a link/video later (I think it's the one in #5).
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Old May 20th, 2013, 12:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gramercy View Post
Interesting idea, but I still think a frictionless Maglev tube with even higher speeds is the future for cross-continental tubes.

Make very small pods for literally 2-6 people, make the tube as small as possible, forget about incorporating other tubular infrastructure into it (except where it requires long tunnels and bridges), make it as compact as possible and then watch the LA-NYC time drop to an hour
With maglev you don't need a tube, just an extremely aerodynamic train. As for an evacuated tube, I think the risks are too high. One small fissure either in the tube or the pod/train would kill everyone instantly. A crack in the tube, would instantly be split wide open due to atmospheric pressure. At 4000km/h a train slamming into entering air would be like hitting a brick wall. It would be a catastrophic disaster. On the other hand if the train started leaking air, it is possible it could lose all air before it gets to the next station and everyone would either suffocate or die from "the bends". I think a vacuum tube is more dangerous than it is worth.
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 11:04 AM   #10
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^ What's your alternative proposal to a vacuum tube?
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 08:27 AM   #11
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The exact opposite... a pressure tube, or more accurately, a pressure differential tube like I described in post 1 and 3. A loop where the air within it travels thus any "pods" that enter it are carried by the moving air. Essentially a Pneumatic Tube system powered by the heat of the sun.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 03:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnOldBlackMarble View Post
With maglev you don't need a tube, just an extremely aerodynamic train. As for an evacuated tube, I think the risks are too high. One small fissure either in the tube or the pod/train would kill everyone instantly. A crack in the tube, would instantly be split wide open due to atmospheric pressure. At 4000km/h a train slamming into entering air would be like hitting a brick wall. It would be a catastrophic disaster. On the other hand if the train started leaking air, it is possible it could lose all air before it gets to the next station and everyone would either suffocate or die from "the bends". I think a vacuum tube is more dangerous than it is worth.
I disagree, although your points are valid, I think we could have appropreate safety measures in place. For example segment the tube so that if the system detects a crack/air valves close off the remaining sections and stop traffic immediately.

How fast would your pneumatic system be? AFAIK vacuum tube maglev could theoretically shrink the distance between megacities to essentially a couple of hours.
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Old May 25th, 2013, 03:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnOldBlackMarble View Post
The exact opposite... a pressure tube, or more accurately, a pressure differential tube like I described in post 1 and 3. A loop where the air within it travels thus any "pods" that enter it are carried by the moving air. Essentially a Pneumatic Tube system powered by the heat of the sun.
http://jacquesmattheij.com/elon-musk-and-the-hyperloop

Quote:
So here is my vision for what ‘hyperloop’ stands for:

If you reverse the picture and you imagine a tunnel that is pressurized then there is a much easier way to make the whole thing work, in fact it would explain one of the two parts of the word ‘hyperloop’, the fact that it apparently is a loop, which means that it is going to recycle some critical component. (the other, the ‘hyper’ bit I assume refers to the maximum speeds attainable by such a system).

And that re-cyclable component may very well be the moving air inside the tunnel. If the pressure is supplied from the outside then it could leak away causing vehicles to have to work harder than they were designed for and the transit speed would suffer, but there is an elegant solution for this and it involves seeing the system as a whole rather than as bits and pieces.

A packet switched network of carriages that can be inserted and removed at various locations that are propelled into a slot on the ‘loop’ and taken back out again when they reach their destinations. Energy would be expended when accelerating a carriage to the speed of the loop, after that has been done on a parallel track the carriage is shunted into the loop, and energy expenditure drops rapidly. Such shunt points would exist every few thousand meters along the length of the loop, comparable to on-ramps on highways. The whole thing uses the carriages themselves as the impellers that cause the air to move through the tunnel system, effectively everybody is drafting with everybody else. So the pressurized air is pressurized by the combined motive force of all the carriages. The more carriages in the loop the lower the energy budget per carriage. Carriages would be electrically propelled, mostly seal the tunnel walls and use maglev principles or something similar to reach their speed. One hyperloop could be the ramp up to the next by keeping ‘packets’ for the same destination together, shunting them out to an intermediary phase and speeding up again for the next level. Downshifting would be the same but in reverse.

So this system would actually be cheaper and more energy efficient as usage goes up, compared with ordinary roads where congestion and fuel consumption goes up with usage.
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Old May 25th, 2013, 11:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gramercy View Post
I disagree, although your points are valid, I think we could have appropreate safety measures in place. For example segment the tube so that if the system detects a crack/air valves close off the remaining sections and stop traffic immediately.
True.
Quote:
How fast would your pneumatic system be? AFAIK vacuum tube maglev could theoretically shrink the distance between megacities to essentially a couple of hours.
I have no idea. I would think that at least 400km/h or so, or even higher, but 1200km/h, as Elon suggest, does seem high. But I really have no idea, so it might be possible. And I don't think a massive system like this has ever been tested to see how it would work. On the other hand having air "mass" in a tube would definitely limit itself at "some" speed, at some point. And since the tube would follow the contours of the earth, at extremely high speeds I can envision pressure-vortices forming where ever there is a bend in the tube. All this is just speculation, and until a test "tube" is built I don't think we can know for sure.

A vacuum tube is for sure the ideal solution. I would love to see this technology happen, but I don't think we are there yet. Maintaining a vacuum tube on the surface of the earth, that also allows for millions of people to enter and exit it, I just don't see how it would be feasible with our technology today. Plus, I'm trying "figure out" Elon's idea within the "specs" he has given us so far. So I'm trying to stick to ideas that are feasible today and fit into his parameters.

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Old May 30th, 2013, 10:23 AM   #15
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Musk has described it as a combination of a rail gun, the Concorde, and an air hockey table. The latter two elements (and the purported energy efficiency) suggest an aerodynamic support system (think lifting bodies), rather than maglev, and although I think this would rule out a vacuum tube, it doesn't rule out reduced pressure, say to the equivalent of 30,000 feet in altitude. We know how to transport people safely under those conditions, and moving along at 200-300 mph through air of that density should be easy enough. "Railgun" suggests magnetic acceleration, and probably magnetic deceleration, which allows highly efficient recovery of the kinetic energy. You can even imagine incoming vehicles transferring their energy more or less directly to outgoing vehicles (hence the "loop").

The problem that needs to be solved is, what to do with the air in front of the vehicle? A passenger plane just displaces it to the sides, but in a close-fitting tube, you'd need to move it out of the way as the vehicle passed by, and perhaps restore it to the tube underneath (for lift) and/or behind the vehicle (for impulse) -- or possibly behind a vehicle in the other tube, going the other way. (Venting it to the atmosphere requires compressing it to 1 atm, a significant energy cost.)

Deriving additional energy from the system almost has to involve some form of solar energy collection. You could put acres of solar cells on the tops of the tubes; between LA and SF there'd be an enormous amount of energy collected, and the DC current could drive electromagnets that provide motive force along the way.

So: trains accelerated and moved by magnetics, supported by air, and moving through a partially evacuated tube. Sounds do-able to me!
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Old May 30th, 2013, 09:10 PM   #16
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We think we know what Elon Musk's hyperloop is
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Old May 31st, 2013, 04:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bond James Bond View Post
they think WRONG.

Elon Musk was CLEAR in saying the Hyperloop was NOT evacuated.

furthermore, in no way the Hyperlook is supposed to be underground. Elon Musk has been clear in saying it would be CHEAPER than the high speed rail line in California.

One has to wonder how you can do an underground vacuum TUNNEL that is cheaper than high speed rail.


furthemore, again... its an hyperLOOP! The word loop is not there for no reason at all.

Therefore, its quite clear its the opposed to evacuated: it is a PRESSURE tube, with the air moving the cars inside at supersonic speeds.

Its kinda like cheating relativity: oh, you can´t move faster than light, so lets move SPACE TIME (which can expand and contract faster than light). Thats warp drive.


You cant move efficiently cars at supersonic speeds through air?? No problem. Move air itself, so the cars speeds relative to air is near 0.

Furthermore, exactly because of the way such a system would work, collisions would be impossible, just like they are in the Aeromovel monorail system: the air creates a cushion that makes collisions impossible.



Again, I think everybody should read this link
http://jacquesmattheij.com/elon-musk-and-the-hyperloop
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Old June 7th, 2013, 12:01 AM   #18
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Here's an interesting discussion about he hyperloop at Gizmag.

How does Elon Musk's Hyperloop work?




What has Musk actually revealed about the Hyperloop? Putting together the bits and pieces from his comments over the past year amounts to something of a performance brief for what the Hyperloop would be capable of. In addition to the killer feature (downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco in 30 minutes), we know that Hyperloop would double the gate-to-gate average speed of an aircraft over that distance, which is 560 km (350 miles). Musk has said Hyperloop is a non-scheduled service which leaves when you arrive, is immune to the weather and never crashes. The only specific technical hints Musk has provided is that it's not a vacuum tunnel, but is a cross between Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table. This makes quite an impressive list of attributes. Naturally, there is a lot of speculation as to what Musk's Hyperloop must be.
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Old July 15th, 2013, 09:34 PM   #19
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Coming August 12
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Old July 17th, 2013, 05:49 PM   #20
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Tesla’s Elon Musk has a wild new idea
Quote:
Tesla Motors Chief Executive and co-founder Elon Musk started off his week on Monday by tweeting an announcement that, from anyone else, would have sounded like a tease for a bad sci-fi movie.

“Will publish Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12. Critical feedback for improvements would be much appreciated.”

If you still think electric cars or rocket ships are cool, you haven’t been keeping up with Musk. His “hyperloop” is a proposed “really rapid transit system” that he says will be able to get a passenger from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a half-hour. That would mean travel at 800 miles per hour, or about twice the speed of conventional aircraft.
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