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Student Proposes Eco-Friendly Hyperloop

Friday, February 7, 2020

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Caroline Crouchley, an eighth-grader living in Long Island, New York, has recently proposed a new, more eco-friendly take on Elon Musk’s hyperloop.

For her version of the ultra-high-speed transit system, Crouchley says: “It has a simpler design, can be more easily constructed, can utilize the existing footprint of rail right-of-ways and is cheaper to build.”

About the Eco-Friendly Hyperloop

Having grown up taking the train every day and understanding increasing environmental concerns, Crouchley envisioned a better way to commute by train, that would not only be eco-friendly, but cheaper to build as well.

Instead of using Musk’s idea of traveling with vacuum tubes—as Crouchley believes there are more safety risks involved with the 700 mph propelling pods—she chose to use similar technology to propel existing trains instead.

According to Crouchley, tubes would be build next to or under existing train tracks, where a shuttle that travels within the tube would attach to the neighboring train through the use of a magnetic connector arm. From there, the shuttles would be propelled by renewable energy through the tubes, moving the trains at higher speeds than they would ever be able to travel on their own.

However, Crouchley’s transit system wouldn’t travel as fast as Musk’s projected designs. Yet, this difference is offset by various environmental benefits: in using renewable energy, the vacuum tube would replace the need for trains to be powered by diesel engines or electric motors, in addition to the savings in using existing infrastructure.

Both benefits reduce fossil fuel emissions, byproducts and decreases construction emissions.

“We are choking our cities with air pollution from trucks and cars. We must move in the direction of workable mass transit, and right now, trains are the most ecological way of moving people and things from point A to point B,” said Crouchley.

For her idea, Crouchley won second place at the 2019 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Hyperloop History

Since the reveal of the hyperloop concept was presented by Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, Paypal and SpaceX, the race for creating the real deal was on.

In 2016, Bjarke Ingels Group unveiled a sneak-peak of what would be the Hyperloop One system, connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. In 2017, Hypereloop Transportation Technologies began constructing the world’s first full-scale Passenger Hyperloop Capsule. In 2018, Musk's Boring Company completed its first test tunnel.

Designs show that once inside a tube, the transporting pod will be moved by an electric motor. Once the motor has accelerated to proper speed, magnets force the pod to levitate, propelling it forward at an even faster rate. Air is also removed from the tube, resulting in little wind resistance.

Pods are projected to hold about 24 people and are expected to travel over 500 miles per hour. Of course, before passengers can test these pods, the U.S. Department of Transportation will have to issue a safety certification. Because the hyperloop has elements of both airplanes and trains, the decision of which department will handle the certification process has been delayed.

In March 2019, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approved a $2 million contract with Los Angeles-based engineering and construction firm AECOM for a hyperloop study.

The study would explore the possibility of constructing a hyperloop that would connect Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, with a leg to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The journey from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, via the Pennsylvania Turnpike, is roughly five hours. The proposed hyperloop would cut the travel time to just 30 minutes.

Last month, President Steve Davis of tunneling company The Boring Co.—owned by Elon Musk—announced the possibility for additional underground transit systems throughout the Las Vegas resort corridor, should the company’s current convention center tunnel prove to be a success.

The news arrived just weeks after Musk tweeted that the commercial tunnel hoped be operational sometime this year.

   

Tagged categories: Emissions; Green Infrastructure; Hyperloop; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Rail; Research; Research and development; Technology; Transportation

Comment from Jeff Laikind, (2/7/2020, 9:26 AM)

An engineer named Max Shlienger has built a 1/6th scale model that works on this system. You can find it on Youtube.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (2/11/2020, 7:59 AM)

I think it's great for an 8th grader. Several issues: The original Hyperloop plan included use of 100% renewable energy, so that should be the baseline - not diesel. A magnetic arm linking two trains has all sorts of safety and durability concerns, even leaving out the tube coordination. The system would be limited to existing train tracks with extra right-of-way, and passenger train priority - not a lot of places in the USA. Converting existing tracks to a "green" approach can be far simpler - you just need to supply electricity directly to the existing train (most are already electric, just fed by an onboard diesel generator). This is proven technology with widespread use outside the USA. Some passenger trains like the DC Metro are already direct-fed electric.


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