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Hyperloop illustration. Image Credit: SpaceX

Clean Transport

Elon Musk Has Unveiled The Hyperloop Details

Elon Musk has prepared the details of his Hyperloop transportation concept, which can carry cars and people at unprecedented speeds.

As is the case with all projects, it has its rough patches, and Elon Musk realized he had bitten off a bit more than he could chew. He recently admitted that he couldn’t devote time to developing the concept right now, which is an honourable admission. Even to publish the concept, Elon (and others) had to stay up all night on Sunday.

Elon’s announcement shows that the hyperloop would not operate inside a vacuum, as previously thought. The intro to the 57-page hyperloop document was as follows:

The first several pages will attempt to describe the design in everyday language, keeping numbers to a minimum and avoiding formulas and jargon. I apologize in advance for my loose use of language and imperfect analogies.

The second section is for those with a technical background. There are no doubt errors of various kinds and superior optimizations for elements of the system. Feedback would be most welcome – please send to hyperloop@spacex.com or hyperloop@teslamotors.com. I would like to thank my excellent compadres at both companies for their help in putting this together.

Following that, Musk and team started by stating that he was disappointed by the California High Speed Rail project, citing that it is one of the most expensive and slowest high-speed rail networks there is, travelling at a speed of only 164 MPH (264 kph) between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Hyperloop illustration. Image Credit: SpaceX

hyperloop

(On a side note: Could the problem with US railways be that the government hires for-profit corporations to manage them instead of doing it themselves? That includes not only the actual cost of operating the railway, but the profit margin of the corporations as well, and the corporations may overcharge the government and get away with it.)

The hyperloop, which is partly based on an ET3 concept, would operate using two tubes so that cars can travel in both directions, according to Elon Musk and team’s report. Just go ahead and click on that link to check out the full announcement and concept.


Big/Revolutionary Ideas

Sometimes big problems require big solutions, and this applies especially to the transportation situation which encompasses congestion, excessive air pollution, excessive greenhouse gas emissions, and an inherently high risk of accidents. Transportation by personal cars is the worst in all of these categories. However, it provides the greatest freedom and has some convenience benefits, such as the ability to drive yourself anywhere.

If trains are built on the same basic concept as railways were literally more than 200 years ago, will they suddenly become more convenient than cars and take over? No, although I do have to give them credit, as their benefits still stand. However, there is always room for improvement, and making public transit better than personal cars would be the ultimate achievement to get everyone on board it.

My point is that if a designer can make public transportation more convenient than personal cars, that is a tremendously helpful achievement, as it will make everyone want to use it, even if it was more expensive. Public transportation would no longer be the pragmatic, “economy” alternative to personal cars, but the nicest.

Everyone knows that speed is well appreciated, especially since travel by air and ship are so slow. High-speed railways that can attain speeds in excess of 200 MPH have already been built in China. If you could hop on such a train and have it depart in only a few minutes, that would be a truly quick mode of transportation, overall.

We’ll see if anyone builds onto Elon’s hyperloop design and tries to develop it, or if Elon comes back to it in a few years, as he recently said he might.

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writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.

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