The company developing Elon Musk’s 760mph maglev train has announced new details about the levitation system it plans to use.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) said on Monday that it will use a passive magnetic levitation system developed by Lawrence Livermore National Labs in the US. HTT has exclusively licensed the technology for their Hyperloop project.
The Los Angeles-headquartered transportation company wants to build a system that involves firing a pod full of people through a low-pressure tube at speeds of up to 760 mph. It has been described by inventor Musk as a mix between Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table that could take you from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under 30 minutes.
Hyperloop Technologies said that magnetic fields in the tunnel will lift the pod before a “thrust force” is applied by an electric motor, accelerating the pod to speeds just shy of the speed of sound (767 mph).
Maglev technology is already used on trains in Shanghai, China, but it’s relatively expensive as it requires copper coils along the track and a large power supply. HTT’s “Hyperloop Levitation System” — made out of aluminium rather than copper — has been designed so that it is cheaper than previous iterations of the technology. Much of the energy used to power the electric motor is created and harnessed when the pod decelerates.
“Utilising a passive levitation system will eliminate the need for power stations along the Hyperloop track, which makes this system the most suitable for the application and will keep construction costs low,” said Bibop Gresta, COO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, in a statement. “From a safety aspect, the system has huge advantages, levitation occurs purely through movement, therefore if any type of power failure occurs, Hyperloop pods would continue to levitate and only after reaching minimal speeds touch the ground.”
HTT is planning to build a five-mile prototype of Hyperloop in California’s Quay Valley within the next three years. If successful, larger versions of Hyperloop could be built across the world. Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Botswana and India are all in contention. “We think the first Hyperloop will be built in a country where there’s a lack of infrastructure and less regulation,” said Gresta.
Critics have questioned whether Hyperloop will ever come to fruition, targeting cost and safety as potential major setbacks.
Several other companies are building their own versions of Hyperloop. Rival Hyperloop Tech is currently trialing its own version of the transportation system.