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Long-distance high-speed travel by capsule in evacuated tubes using magnetic levitation

highspeed tubeThe company is called Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies (ET3), and they propose a tubular network that could carry passengers at high speeds through evacuated tubes. It rather calls to mind the time I remember when major stores used a small-scale pneumatic tube system to carry cash and receipts from a hidden back office to the counter assistants. This technology is much more advanced, however.

The tubes would be 5ft in diameter, and would carry car-sized passenger pods for 6 passengers , accelerated to high speeds by electric linear induction motors, and with a frictionless maglev ride though the evacuated tube. With minimal friction or air resistance, efficiency could be high. Speeds of 370mph are proposed for short trips within states, and of 4,000mph for long-distance or international travel. This could mean 45 minutes for New York – San Francisco, or New York – Beijing in 2 hours. The tubes could go under water where required, and there would be airlocks at stations to prevent air being admitted.

The company is very bullish on costs, claiming that its system would need only 1/20th of the material required for high speed rail, since its vehicles are so light. They say that automated passive switching would give two such tubes more capacity than a 32-lane freeway. The cost, they say, would be 1/10th of high speed rail, and 1/4 that of a freeway. Most of the electric energy used to accelerate the vehicles will be recovered as they decelerate, and ET3 can provide 50 times more transportation per kWh than electric cars or trains.

Will it happen? The name of Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX, is associated with it, so it might well see some development. My best guess is that we might see a trial of it set up to serve a popular route. And if it has anything like the efficiency claimed for it, it could catch on. Would I ride it? You bet! Two hours to Beijing or Australia? Why wouldn’t I?

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One Response

  1. Phew……4k per hour. If the capsule hit a rat at that speed…..the mind boggles and the DE – E*X*C*E*L*L*E*R*A*T*I*O*N…..would eye popping describe it ? It certainly sounds thrilling but I think it would be prudent to leave lunch until after the journey. Which reminds me, I need to get to Rio by 3.00PM and it’s already 1.00PM…where’s the Tube ?

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