When you are running short of time, a long time-consuming journey may feel hectic to you. In such a situation, you may feel a need for transportation technology which can complete your long journey in just a matter of minutes. Hyperloop transportation technology can fulfill this desire.
First mentioned in the year 2012 by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Hyperloop has the potential to achieve a speed of 1200 km/hr by partially eliminating air-resistance and friction. The complete description involving engineering specifics of the hyperloop was released in 2013 and the project was made open-source. Since then, many big companies like Virgin have made a significant contribution to the hyperloop project. Hyperloop is being viewed as the biggest leap of all time for the transportation industry.
Hyperloop is a tube-based transportation system where passengers will be sitting inside a pod(also known as capsule) and this pod will be moving through long tubes that have tracks inside it and are constructed above the ground level. These tubes begin at the source station and will end at the destination station.
The major problem with the conventional transportation system is that lots of kinetic energy is dissipated in overcoming the opposing air-resistance and frictional force. Because of these two forces, accelerating is not easy. Therefore, in Hyperloop's focus is given on reducing the air pressure inside the Hyperloop tubes to avoid air-resistance and on the movement of pods without being in contact with the track inside the tubes to avoid friction.
Vacuum pumps will be employed to suck the air out of the tube and bring the pressure down to around 1millibar. And with the magnetic levitation, hyperloop pods will be lifted up the track and will be propelled through the tube.
We know that alike poles of a magnet repel each other and opposite poles attract each other. Using the same principle we can make a magnetic object hover over another magnetic object. This is known as magnetic levitation or MagLev.
Currently, MagLev based trains are being operated in China, Japan, and South Korea. Virgin Hyperloop One uses magnetic levitation to lift the pod. But Mr. Musk's proposed idea was to lift the pod using air bearing and move it using linear induction motors.
In the Maglev based trains, electromagnets and superconducting magnets are used. The magnetic intensity and direction of the magnetic field generated by electromagnets can be controlled by the amount and direction of electric current. In magnetic levitation, the direction of the magnetic field generated by the electromagnets present on the track is the same as that generated by the superconducting magnets in the transport vehicle (pods in case of Hyperloop). This will result in repulsive force and pods will be lifted.
Once the air pressure is reduced and the pod is lifted, it is ready to be propelled through. Tracks inside the tubes will have electromagnets on the sides. The magnetic field of these electromagnets will keep on changing. This will exert a repulsive or attractive force on the pod. As a result, the pod will be pulled or pushed in the guided direction.
Since there is negligible air resistance and almost zero friction, hyperloop pods can accelerate very easily and can reach a speed of around 1200 km/hr.
Currently, two braking mechanisms are being considered for hyperloop
1. Frictionnal braking
2. Eddy Current braking
Many big tech giants are working on this project and hopefully, it will be completed by the next year i.e 2021. But before it is made available to the general public lots and lots of safety tests will be performed on the hyperloop which may delay the realization of this science fiction seeming tube ride.
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