Sunday, August 18, 2013

Facts, Questions, Answers: Hyperloop



Earlier this week, billionaire Elon Musk released what he thinks will be a good alternative to the proposed speed rail project to be embarked on between California and San Francisco.

I promised to get back to you with a more detailed post and I’m here with it. Having gone through the document released by Elon Musk, I’ve drafted out some questions you may have about the hyperloop.
I’ve also tried to answer it with the best of my capability using the document. You must note that this is still in theory and there are many variable/things that will change when it is finally subjected to practice in the field.
Facts, Questions, Answers: Hyperloop
Image: Hyperloop Alpha
The hyperloop was revealed with a plan for a journey between Los Angeles and San Francisco, both in California. The distance between the two cities is 610km.
What is Hyperloop?
Hyperloop is a system of transportation that transports people using capsules. The capsules are transported in a tube of low pressure air. The tubes are placed on pylons.
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.
Will it only be for humans?
The hyperloop will come in two forms. There will be hyperloop for passengers only and also hyperloop built for transporting both passengers and cars/freights.
Two versions of the Hyperloop capsules are being considered: a passenger only version and a passenger plus vehicle version.
How safe will it be?
One fact is that the hyperloop can never be adopted if it’s not safe for passengers travelling through it. In theory though, Elon Musk claims it’s even safer than other forms of transport because of the removal of human error.
The pylons on which the tube rests will be built to withstand earthquakes without disrupting the balance of the tubes.
Capsules travel in a carefully controlled and maintained tube environment. The system is immune to wind, ice, fog, and rain.  The propulsion system is integrated into the tube and can only accelerate the capsule to speeds that are safe in each section. With human control error and unpredictable weather removed from the system, very few safety concerns remain.
In many cases Hyperloop is intrinsically safer than airplanes, trains, or automobiles.
How much will a journey cost you?
In order to recoup the investment in twenty years, a journey between Los Angeles and San Francisco or similar distance will cost you about $20 for the passenger version. The estimated cost of a passenger plus vehicle version was not indicated.
Transporting 7.4 million people each way and amortizing the cost of $6 billion over 20 years gives a ticket price of $20 for a one-way trip for the passenger version of Hyperloop.
How fast will it be?
The hyperloop will go through the speeds of 300mph, 550mph, and 760mph depending on how straight the path is. The total journey has been estimated will be about 35 minutes. In comparison, it will be faster than you going through the same journey by air.
Total travel time of 2,134 seconds (35 minutes)
How comfortable will a journey be?
The capsule will be made with features that will make a journey comfortable. For instance, you will have access to your entertainment system during the journey.
The interior of the capsule is specifically designed with passenger safety and comfort in mind. The seats conform well to the body to maintain comfort during the high speed accelerations experienced during travel. Beautiful landscape will be displayed in the cabin and each passenger will have access their own personal entertainment system.
How big will the tube be?
The passenger hyperloop tube will have an inner diameter of 2.23m (7ft 4in) and a cross-sectional area of 3.91m2 (42.2ft2). The passenger plus vehicle tube will have an inner diameter of 3.3m (10ft 10in) and a cross-sectional area of 8.55m2 (92.1ft2).
How big will the capsule be?
The passenger capsule will have a frontal area of 1.4m2 (15ft2).
The maximum width is 4.43ft (1.35m) and maximum height is 6.11ft (1.10m). With rounded corners, this is equivalent to a 15ft2(1.4m2) frontal area, not including any propulsion or suspension components.
The passenger plus vehicle version will have a frontal area of 4.0m2 (43ft2).
Will there be a driver/pilot?
There won’t be a driver. The hyperloop will be driven by accelerators.
In order to propel the vehicle at the required travel speed, an advanced linear motor system is being developed to accelerate the capsule above 760 mph (1,220 kph) at a maximum of 1g for comfort. The moving motor element (rotor) will be located on the vehicle for weight savings and power requirements while the tube will incorporate the stationary motor element (stator) which powers the vehicle.
How green will it be?
Since the hyperloop will be getting its power supply from solar panels, it is as green as it can get. The solar energy will be stored in power inverters.
How energy-consuming will it be?
The energy consumption is very low compared to other forms of transport. The passenger version consumes about 60MJ per passenger per journey while the passenger plus vehicle version consumes a little over 200MJ per passenger per journey. In comparison, an airplane consumes over a 1000MJ and a car, about 800MJ.
It is also worth noting the energy cost of this system is less than any currently existing mode of transport. The only system that comes close to matching the low energy requirements of Hyperloop is the fully electric Tesla Model S.
How many people will be transported daily and annually?
About 840 people will be transported every hour; about 20 thousand people will be transported daily and about 7.4 million annually.
The capacity would be 840 passengers per hour which more than sufficient to transport all of the 6 million passengers traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco areas per year.
How far will you be off the ground during a journey?
The pylons will be an average of 6 metres high which means you will travel through your journey 6 metres away from the ground.
The pillars will be 20ft (6m) tall whenever possible but may vary in height in hilly areas or where obstacles are in the way.
Not too far away from mother earth…
P.S: All quotes in this post are from the hyperloop alpha document.
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