Hyperloop will begin testing in Nevada in early 2016. In a December 7 blog post, Hyperloop Technologies Inc. confirmed they have secured a 50-acre site in North Las Vegas and are currently working out the finer details of their highly anticipated Propulsion Open Air Test.
As stated on the company’s official website, Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system that consists of a cargo or passenger pod and a fully enclosed weatherproof tube.
Each pressurized pod is suspended on a cushion of compressed air inside the reduced-pressure tube.
As described by Hyperloop Technologies Inc., “The ultra-low pressure environment creates a near vacuum for the pod to travel through, allowing speeds of up to 700 miles per hour.”
The concept for Hyperloop was introduced in 2013 by Elon Musk. Although Musk is a respected engineer and inventor who found great success with SpaceX and Tesla Motors, his design for a “fifth mode of transport” was met with harsh scepticism.
Although critics agree Musk’s concept is intriguing, they argue that it simply will not work. Two of the more serious concerns are potential structural damage caused by high temperatures and wind stress.
According to Elon Musk’s design, each pod is expected to compress a large volume of air, which will subsequently produce an immense amount of heat.
To prevent damage to the Hyperloop system, Musk suggests attaching a water tank to each pod. The engineer said the water will be used to convert the heated air into steam, which will be collected and disposed of during each scheduled stop.
— CNBC (@CNBC) December 9, 2015
Although Musk’s solution sounds plausible, Navigant Research Senior Analyst Sam Jaffee said the pods, according to Elon’s design, simply do not have the capacity “for an efficient exchange of heat” or the necessary amount of water. As the Hyperloop system will be elevated, wind stress is another serious concern. Jaffee discusses how wind pressure could ultimately destroy the proposed transportation system.
“Any structure elevated 100 feet off the ground is going to be under a lot of wind pressure, which will act on it in weird and sometimes multiple directions. If that structure is a heavy tube stretching hundreds of miles in either direction, you effectively have a big sail.”
Critics have also noted that the projected cost of building a Hyperloop system simply is not worth it.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) December 9, 2015
As reported by Investopedia, Elon Musk’s estimated cost of building “two one way tubes and 40 capsules with no cargo space” exceeds $8 billion. However, critics believe the actual cost will be closer to $100 billion.
At full capacity, those two tubes would generate an estimated $300 million in revenue each year.
Despite numerous criticisms of Musk’s design and the projected cost, the Hyperloop will be tested in Nevada next year.
As reported by Business Wire, Hyperloop Technologies Inc. recently secured a plot of land in North Las Vegas’ Mountain View Industrial Park that will be used to test Elon Musk’s concept.
CEO Rob Lloyd said the Propulsion Open Air Test is a “major milestone” in the company’s quest to build a fully functional Hyperloop by the fourth quarter of 2016 and “to deliver a commercially viable, fully operational Hyperloop system by 2020.”
Steve Hill, director of Nevada’s Office of Economic Development, said he is happy Hyperloop Technologies Inc. chose Nevada as their testing site.
“Hyperloop Tech is a cutting-edge company focused on changing the way the world views transportation, and we could not be more excited about the role the State of Nevada is going to play in this first phase of testing… It certainly is thrilling to see how Nevada is becoming a place to research, develop, test, and implement advanced technologies driven by innovation.”
Thus far, the Hyperloop’s Nevada test has received strong support from North Las Vegas Mayor John Jay Lee, Governor Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, and the Nevada Office of Economic Development.