Having recorded a huge success with Tesla, Elon Musk is now turning his entrepreneurial eye on revolutionising long distance transportation.
When researching California’s new high speed rail project, and realising that it will be the slowest, and yet most expensive, high speed rail system in the world, he decided that there must be an alternative that offers faster travel for less cost.
He has settled on the idea of a network of pneumatic tubes within which travel carriages at high speed along a magnetic-levitation track. His system would be able to take someone from New York to Los Angeles in 45 minutes, and New York to Beijing in just 2 hours.
Musk’s ‘Hyperloop’ would work in a similar manner to the old fashioned pneumatic tube delivery system, which would use suction to pull a capsule along the tube to the destination.
Giant vacuum tubes can be built on the ground and even underwater, and will send capsules capable of carrying several people at a time, along a mag-lev track similar to those used for conventional bullet train, at incredibly high speeds.
Musk said that his system would be “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table,” and that it would use so little energy, and at the same time be able to generate energy from solar panels, that it could be a net energy producer.
The idea is not exactly new, having first been contemplated nearly 100 years ago, and one company is actually already at the prototype stage.
ET3 (Evacuated Tube Transport Technology), a company from Longmont, is developing a working prototype for its Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) System which will consist of two tubes (one for each direction) which can transport 400lb carriages capable of carrying six people. The carriages will travel at speeds of 370mph on interstate journeys, and 4,000 mph on international journeys.
Musk has not stated exactly what his plans are or how he aims to pursue this idea whilst still deeply involved in Tesla, and SpaceX, but sources close to him told Wired that he was interested in the ET3 idea, although they are missing a few things.
This piece is cross-posted from Oil Price.com with permission.