Cars, planes, boats, and trains; the modern world consists of four main methods of transportation. Yet with the growing connections and increasing need for travel between large cities, the conventional modes of transportation may no longer be enough. Cars aren’t fast enough and aren’t sufficiently environmentally friendly. Planes, on the other hand, are too expensive. As for trains and boats, they have three flaws: being slow, expensive, and environmentally unfriendly.
Short of actual teleportation, there is only one viable and green solution: the Hyperloop. Travelling at near supersonic speeds, the Hyperloop would not only be fast, but inexpensive. Most importantly, it’s energetically self-sufficient.
But what exactly is the Hyperloop? As presented by SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk, the Hyperloop is a version of the train straight out of a science fiction story. Once built, it would consist of several pods, or capsules, capable of carrying about 28 people, travelling through a low-pressure steel tube. Two steel tubes would be constructed side by side, allowing for two directions of travel. The tubes would have their internal pressure reduced to a near vacuum, decreasing the friction of air to almost zero, which allows the pods to move at much higher speeds. Each capsule would be equipped with a pump system, sucking the air from the front of the pod, and releasing it at the rear, propelling the train forwards. The pods would be propelled by the linear accelerators built along the length of the tube and rotors on the capsules themselves to transfer the momentum. Like air hockey tables, the capsules would even emit a cushion of air to ensure a smoother ride and keep them from touching the inside surface of the tube. With almost no air friction to slow them down, the pods could travel almost as fast as sound, at speeds as high as 1,220 km/hour. A trip that would normally take two hours by train, would take no more than half an hour by Hyperloop!
Better still, the Hyperloop would be both affordable and energy self-sufficient. The current SpaceX proposal for the Hyperloop aims to keep travel ticket prices at only $20 per one-way trip. Of course, the Hyperloop would also be battery powered. Each pod would be recharged at every station. As for the electricity used to charge the batteries, it could be produced by the Hyperloop itself, as the tube would be lined with solar panels.
Of course, the Hyperloop does present some potential problems and certainly will ignite many fears in the imagination of the public: being inside an air-tight, low-pressure tube does not exactly sound like a walk in the park for most. Because of the conditions of the tube, accidents in the Hyperloop would be much more devastating than train or car crashes. Passengers may also experience considerable force to their bodies when accelerating and decelerating on the Hyperloop. Needless to say, at such high speeds, the pods would be unable to navigate even the widest turns without discomfort to the passengers.
Still, all these issues remain minor in comparison to the great potential of the Hyperloop. Traffic jams and flight anxiety could finally be a thing of the past. Green, fast, and cheap, the Hyperloop sounds like a dream coming finally true!