How will the Hyperloop even work?

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

Hyperloop is all set to turn out into the first biggest invention for the 21st-century transportation system. It is fast, great looking and on the whole, a concept that’s totally fascinating! Actually, it is all set to be the fastest transportation system on the surface of the earth.  It certainly represents the greatest leap in the transportation inventions for generations. So, what is this new idea that everyone’s amazed of? How does the whole thing work and why is it so different?

Concept of the Hyperloop Photo Credits -

Hyperloop is a combination of passenger pods and tubes. With the pods that will travel at the airline speed through vacuumed tubes using magnetic levitation and electric propulsion, the concept promises to decrease travel times radically, especially between major cities. It is like science fictions coming to reality. Perhaps, a reality that is going to revolutionize our world and the systems. First conceived in 2012, in a simple paper release, Elon Musk demonstrated this transportation system visioning passengers moving within steel pods, through semi vacuumed tubes. He addressed two key factors that slow down any regular free moving vehicles – air resistance and friction. His first concept was that air around passenger pods would minimize frictional drag and create air bearings beneath which would eventually make them float of the tube surface. Because of the humongous expenses, this concept couldn’t make its way through initially. However as the idea was so unique and had great potentials to link the important cities, it created enough buzz and spread interest among people. Right on from the start, Musk decided to keep this idea patent free and encouraged others to come forward for developing the concept furthermore from his involvement. Many teams got formed around the world to work on this project. Consequentially, now there are several big companies that are working great and bringing significant pace in turning it into a reality. And among these groups, the leading one is clearly the Virgin Hyperloop One. This is the hyperloop that is expected to be the first and foremost one in future operations.

Elon Musk congratulating the winners of the Hyperloop Pod Competition at SpaceX's Hyperloop track in California. Photo Credit -

The Virgin Hyperloop One has been a bit diverted from Musks initial concept. It combines two basic technologies, MagLev and the vacuum tube. MagLev is a technology that is already well in use with rail tracks. It lifts the passenger pods and moves them along their rails. It is a combination of two sets of magnets. One lifts the pods over the tracks and the other helps to move the floating train at cruising speed. The second hyperloop principal is to keeping the tube at a low-pressure vacuum environment, reducing the friction drastically. To keep the vacuum of the tube there are powerful air suckers placed every few meters along the track. Inside the tube, the pressure is so low that it would be like flying at an altitude of two hundred thousand feet. This almost friction-free environment lets the pods move at the highest speed of 760 mph or 1223 kph, using comparably a very little energy. Being in a well-protected tube, the pods are protected from harsh weather and is operable in almost any condition.  Virgin Hyperloop system is monitored and operated with highly advanced software, making the acceleration and deceleration very smooth for the passengers inside.

Potentials of the Hyperloop to take over the airplanes

Hyperloop can gain more speed than airplanes with using less energy, being much more environment-friendly. Moreover, where the airports are often placed in the outskirts of cities, the Hyperloop stations would be placed in the city centers, making them stand strong for tightly scheduled businesses. Furthermore, the security checking in the Hyperloop will be much faster than the usual airport check-ins. Because it needs a lot lesser energy than aircraft, it can be powered by renewable energy sources like solar or wind.

Considering all the prospects, it seems like this amazing new concept is all set to become part of our lives in the future, sooner or later.

Written by: Bayezid Hossain

Bayezid Hossain is volunteering for Voyager Space Outreach to write Blog posts on Space/STEM oriented topics.

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