SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has stayed up all night drafting a proposal to create a Hyperloop transportation system for shuttling travelings between Los Angeles and San Francisco at the speed of approx. 761 miles per hour.
Musk, who has invested his own money to send a man to Mars within 15 years, tweeted the detailed explanation of his proposal on his company’s websites at SpaceX and Telsa Motors.
The Hyperloop is said to go from one city to the other in less than half an hour, making better time than commercial airplanes flying between the two California cities. His plan is to power the system through solar-panels.
So What is Hyperloop Anyway?
Musk said in order for super fast travel to happen an enlarged version of the old pneumatic tubs used to send mail and packages within and between buildings need to be built over or under the ground that contains a special environment.
“A low pressure (vs. almost no pressure) system set to a level where standard commercial pumps could easily overcome an air leak and the transport pods could handle variable air density would be inherently robust,” he wrote. However, the low amount of air in the tube leads to Kantrowitz limit, which is “nature’s top speed law for a given tub to pod area ratio.”
In order to overcome the Kantrowitz limit, the environment, he said, would be created by mounting “an electric compressor fan on the nose of the pod that actively transfers high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel.”
Musk said air bearings, which use the same principle as an air hockey table, have been demonstrated to work at speeds of Mach 1.1 with very low friction. “In this case, however, it is the pod that is producing the air cushion, rather than the tube, as it is important to make the tube as low cost and simple as possible,” he wrote.
Hyperloop Alpha (Photo: Twitter)
Although a plan to build a “bullet train” is underway through California high speed rail project, Musk said the Hyperloop makes a lot more sense, because compared with several tens of billion proposed for the rail project, the tub would cost at the most several hundred million dollars at most.
It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but only if it is actually better than flying or driving.
“If we are to make a massive investment in a new transportation system, then the return should by rights be equally massive. Compared to the alternatives, it should be ideally be: safer, faster, lower cost, more convenient, immune to weather, sustainably self-powering, resistant to Earthquakes, not disruptive to those along the route.”
Even though Musk has proposed a design for Hyperloop, he does not plan to pursue the transportation system beyond that, “I don’t have any plans to execute it, because I must remain focused on SpaceX and Telsa,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “I think I kind of shot myself by ever mentioning the Hyperloop.”