How can people breathe in the hyperloop

At 1000 km / h through the tube - super-fast train travel in a vacuum

How can the traffic of the future be organized in the most energy-saving and environmentally friendly way possible? The known modes of transport are reaching their limits or, with increasing use, prove to be an equally increasing ecological burden. SpaceX founder and technology jack-of-all-trades Elon Musk proposes a whole new solution: the Hyperloop. Electromagnetically powered trains should travel at the speed of sound and whiz through vacuum tubes with practically no air resistance.

Hanging levitation

To implement this idea, Musk relies on the tech nerds of the world. He has announced a competition for the development of the technical approaches, in which universities and student groups take part. One of them worked at the TU Delft in the Netherlands. With her vehicle concept she won the "1st SpaceX Hyperloop Competition" in 2017. From this group, the start-up company Hardt emerged, also in Delft.

In addition to the vacuum tube, friction-free electromagnetic locomotion is the decisive core of the Hyperloop idea. In principle, it was already implemented in the magnetic levitation train, which - originally developed in Germany - is now in use in China. But the young Delft engineers have made decisive changes to their approach. Your vehicle, or "pod", does not float on a magnetic field above the rail. Instead, the rail is on top, the pod hangs underneath and is held there by a permanent magnet on board the vehicle. At the same time, an electromagnet counteracts the permanent magnet and leaves a small one There is a gap between the rail and the vehicle suspension. Coils in the rail ensure the input of energy and the movement.

Successful test

So far, this arrangement has been successfully tested in a 30 meter long vacuum tube with a diameter of three meters. A Busch vacuum system was used for evacuation. It empties the 130 cubic meter cavity in around 40 minutes to a vacuum level of 1 millibar. This corresponds to a vacuum of 99.9 percent. The tests in this setup have shown that the technology works in principle.

Incidentally, the interior of the vehicle is a pressurized cabin, as we know it from airplanes. Since there is no oxygen in the vacuum tube to breathe, Hardt relies on technologies from the aerospace industry to supply the passengers with breathing air. A three-kilometer test track on which the vehicle can also drive at high speed is due to go into operation this year. The vacuum supply for this, this time much more complex, is again provided by Busch.

A cyclist traveling at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour has to pedal four times as hard as someone who is only traveling at 15 km / h. In relation to the speed, the air resistance increases by the square. That is why a super sports car with 1000 hp does not achieve much more than twice the top speed of a modest family carriage. The enormous air resistance at high speeds is nothing more than the collision of the vehicle with the gas molecules in the air and the force that is required to "push them aside". In a vacuum, no displacement is necessary, the resistance does not apply "The vehicle also has no rolling resistance, the drive energy can be converted almost completely into speed in a vacuum tube.