The quest for an ultra-fast train has taken a step forward. California will be building a train track to test the “hyperloop” train system. The test track is set to be five miles long and run along Interstate 5. The company building this train test track is Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. They are not affiliated with the man who came up with the idea of the hyper loop train.
The “hyperloop” is a concept designed by Elon Musk. Musk is the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Musk has plans to build a test track in Texas. He hopes this test track will help find other designs for this new form of transportation.
The way that this technology will work is based on magnetism and vacuums. The train will consist of individual pods where the passengers will be. The pods will be seated on cushions of air that are supplied by fans. By sitting on this air cushion, friction will not be a factor. The lack of friction will be needed in order to generate the high speeds of this train. The pods will be pressurized in a partial vacuum while magnets are used to increase the speed of the train up to 750 mph. The speed of sound is 768 mph.
Currently, the fastest train in the world can go 310 mph. These trains are called maglev trains. The “hyperloop” system, if it really works, will more than double the speed of the maglev train. Engineer Marc Thompson commented on the train.
“You can go a couple of hundred miles an hour with a wheel, as the French and Germans and Japanese have proven. As you go faster, the drag force on the train becomes a very high energy cost.”
The system is not without worry. Many of the modes of mass transportation have redundancies that help avoid catastrophic failures. Physicist James Powell and co-inventor of the maglev train spoke on the potential failure risk of the “hyperloop” train system.
“The guideway [track] has to be built to very fine tolerances, because if the position of the wall deviates from straightness by a few thousandths of an inch, you could crash. The problem with traveling in an evacuated tube is, if you lose the vacuum in the tube, everybody in the tube will crash. The whole system is vulnerable to a single-point failure”
If the “hyperloop” train does show that it works, transportation across the world will change.
Are you excited to ride a train at speeds close to Mach 1?
[Image via Bloomberg.com]