Hyperloop is one of the most ambitious transportation systems of the future where a capsule carries passenger inside a vacuum tube along a magnetic levitated track. With air friction and surface friction negated in this transportation system, the hyperloop is likely to become the most efficient mode of transportation we can envision in the near future.
How does a Hyperloop work?
The hyperloop is propelled using a linear electric motor, which is a straightened-out version of a conventional rotary motor. This linear electric motor has its rotor on the capsule, which is propelled magnetically as it moves over the stator i.e. the track. The hyperloop uses magnetic levitation to guide and lift the capsule of the track. The air inside the hyper loop tube is removed using a series of vacuum pumps. This creates a sky like environment inside the tube, leading to reduction of surface friction and air friction. Thus, a small amount of electricity is needed to achieve extraordinary speeds of 1000kms/hr.
The earliest patents detailing transportation in vacuum tubes dates to 1919. Filed by Davy Robert Ballard, patent US1336732A titled- “Vacuum railway” and US2511979A titled- “Vacuum tube transportation system”, filed by Esther C Goddard are some of the earliest patent fillings.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies holds some of the recent patents/ patent applications detailing hyperloop technology and its functioning. An overview study of this patent holder in Thomson Innovation helped me identify 82 patents spread across 16 INPADOC families. Patent application US20170334312A1 describes the functioning of the hyperloop transportation system where a low-pressure environment tube consists of plurality of tracks . Each track is adapted to carry a hyperloop capsule. The tube also includes a turntable joined at the end to help it rotate the capsule by one hundred and eighty degrees.
Patent US9641117B2, by Hyperloop Technologies Inc explains a mechanism to propel the capsule via an electromagnetic system. Magnets provided on each capsule serve as rotors. The electromagnetic system includes an aligned stator segment placed in the tube, where the capsule is accelerated. The electromagnet system works as a linear motor to generate a force that is proportional to both the current and magnetic field of the rotor. The force is produced by induction, which produces a magnetic field opposite to the magnetic field of the rotor. The opposing fields repel each other, and thus the capsule propells through the tube.
This hyperloop technology is going through experimental and testing phases. The capsules traversed at high speed during experiments, with prototypes developed and tested with success. Some hyperloop networks such as the stretch between Toronto – MontrealIn Canada, Miami–Orlando In the United States and Mumbai-Chennai in India, have been selected to build the hyperloop network. Meanwhile, as roads get more choked with traffic and air transport becomes dearer, this new era of transportation is being awaited.
Featured image is for representative purpose only and has been sourced from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hyperloop_pod_competition_tube.jpg