Electronics and Semiconductors

Elon Musk wants to build a working hyperloop

26 April 2022
The Boring Company built a 0.8 mile hyperloop test track in Hawthorne, Calif. in 2016 for its competitions and to test both loop and hyperloop technologies. Source: The Boring Company

The hyperloop is still a dream for some companies despite some struggles that have emerged in recent months. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, SpaceX and The Boring Company, has plans to build a working hyperloop in the coming years.

Musk said in a Twitter post that The Boring Company would build a hyperloop as he believes it is the fastest possible way of getting from one city center to another for distances less than 2,000 miles.

Hyperloop technology uses magnetic levitation to lift a pod off the track and guide it as it moves, creating a friction-free track. Almost all the air in the tube surrounding the pod is removed to create the same environment found at 200,000 ft above sea level. The combination of the linear motor, magnetic levitation and low-pressure tube reduces drag so that only a small amount of electricity is needed to propel the pod at speeds as high as 670 mph. This could possibly create a more cost-effective system than high-speed rail or airline transportation.

(Learn more about magnets with Globalspec.)

The technology is not only ultra-fast, but it is also reportedly energy-efficient and completely CO2 neutral. This combination is one of the reasons the hyperloop has gained attention in the transportation market as countries look for new ways to meet carbon footprint requirements while providing new ways of traveling for consumers.

Under scrutiny

The hyperloop has always been a subject of scrutiny among experts and the public because of its boast of traveling at super-fast speeds through magnetic levitation. This opinion was even further reinforced when Virgin Hyperloop, one of the main proponents of the technology, said it would no longer focus on passenger travel but instead on hyperloop technology for cargo only transport.

However, there are many startups that are continuing to develop the technology for passenger transportation and the academic community has been heavily involved in developing pods that could travel through hyperloop corridors either above or below ground.

Last year, The Boring Company opened its Las Vegas hyperloop that included three passenger stations — the West Station, the South Station and the Las Vegas Convention Center, which functions as the middle point station. The Boring Company said it had plans to add stations stretching to McCarran International Airport, various hotels and casinos on the strip in downtown Las Vegas and to Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders.

However, this hyperloop project is different from what others and possibly what Musk is envisioning with a working hyperloop as it uses Tesla Model 3 or Model X electric cars that travel at up to speeds of 100 mph on paved roads in tunnels under the city.

Generally, hyperloop startups have been developing pods that would use magnetic levitation and travel along a rail at much higher speeds. It is assumed that Musk is referring to this type of hyperloop rather than one that would use Tesla vehicles.

Other projects

While Virgin has pulled out of the passenger travel aspect of the so-called fifth mode of transportation, many others are currently working on projects globally.

This includes:

  • TransPod’s Alberta, Canada, project which is billed as the first tube-transportation company to confirm financing for a billion-dollar infrastructure project.
  • Hardt Hyperloop receiving millions in investment to develop hyperloop technology in Europe.
  • HyperloopTT’s commercial system that would connect Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburg.

More projects may emerge as well considering that President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will allow hyperloop companies to access federal government programs and funding that was previously unavailable.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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