Hyperloop Physics Explained For Elon Musk’s Dream

The Hyperloop by Elon Musk seems improbable, but can the Hyperloop work as advertised?

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is already being criticized as being too ambitious.

Elon Musk estimates the Hyperloop could be built for $6 billion if only for personal transport. The Hyperloop would cost $10 billion if larger pods capable of holding both people, cars, and other commodities were added. Elon Musk estimates a Hyperloop pod should have a safe braking distance of five miles, so you could have about 70 pods between Los Angeles and San Francisco that leave every 30 seconds.

The elevated Hyperloop system would run on solar power and it’s estimated the pods would cost 20 cents to be boosted up to 350 mph. In comparison, California’s high speed rail is project to cost over $100 billion, be one-fourth the speed, and cost more per ticket. The biggest negative to the current Hyperloop design is the amount of people that can travel at the same time. About 2,880 people could be moved in one direction per hour, whereas existing high speed rail stations can move tens of thousands of people.

But critics are mostly pointing to the political barriers to creating a Hyperloop system that spans states and nations. The Hyperloop system itself should be possible based upon known physics.

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop system operates based upon the principle of reducing aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance, which account for seven percent of energy loss in the average car. That doesn’t sound like much, but the amount of energy spent also greatly increases as speed increases. Elon Musk’s Hyperloop would be traveling at 800 miles per hour or even faster.

So how does the Hyperloop solve this problem? The Hyperloop system suspends pods in air using magnets and the Hyperloop system tubes operates completely in a vacuum. This design also means the Hyperloop will not suffer from cabin pressure changes, air turbulence, and lateral motion changes like with air travel.

The Hyperloops system will also recover energy during braking. In practice, Hyperloop physics means during a 30 minute trip 15 minutes will be spent accelerating and another 15 for braking. This method would allow for higher top speeds that would exceed a SR-71 Blackbird jet. If the Hyperloop were to accelerate quickly during the first several minutes this would mean passengers could feel much heavier, which would be a problem for people with health problems.

What do you think about the Hyperloop system by Elon Musk?

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