Urban Transport

Hyperloop One plans to take supersonic tube transport underwater

Hyperloop One plans to take su...
Artist's concept of Hyperloop going underwater
Artist's concept of Hyperloop going underwater
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Hyperloop One's electromagnetic propulsion system doing a demonstration run in May 2016
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Hyperloop One's electromagnetic propulsion system doing a demonstration run in May 2016
Executive Chairman Shervin Pishevar, CEO Rob Lloyd, and Brogan BamBrogan
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Executive Chairman Shervin Pishevar, CEO Rob Lloyd, and Brogan BamBrogan
Hyperloop One plans to run its transport pipelines underwater
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Hyperloop One plans to run its transport pipelines underwater
Artist's concept of Hyperloop going underwater
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Artist's concept of Hyperloop going underwater
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Back in May Hyperloop One revealed a number of applications for the transportation technology that it's developing. Now board member and CEO of the X-Prize Foundation, Peter Diamandis, has confirmed in an interview with Business Insider that the company is interested in producing an underwater version of the system that could be used to move cargo to floating ports 10 miles offshore.

Hyperloop One transportation technology is designed to move passenger and cargo capsules through evacuated steel tubes at supersonic speeds. The applications floated when the first public demonstration of the technology took place earlier this year included plans to connect Scandinavian cities, an underground tunnel between London and Manchester, and running the Hyperloop tubes underwater as a way to reduce routing costs and revolutionize cargo handling.

Hyperloop One has shown a number of conceptual drawings of the latter, which envisions a future where conventional docklands and port facilities are turned into residential zones and parkland as tubes move cargo handling offshore to floating platforms. Container ships would dock to drop off and pick up cargo from the Hyperloop system at these offshore platforms.

Hyperloop One's electromagnetic propulsion system doing a demonstration run in May 2016
Hyperloop One's electromagnetic propulsion system doing a demonstration run in May 2016

"We've been talking to a lot of the port authorities around the world about re-engineering their ports in this kind of fashion," Diamandis told Business Insider.

He went on to say that the reconversion of seaports would produce "a huge real-estate boom" similar to that in London's Docklands after the obsolete port facilities were turned over for business and residential redevelopment.

"Long Beach, near where I live, is a beautiful California coastline that is basically covered with ports or cargo containers and ships," says Diamandis. "Imagine if you could regain all of that coastline for parks and homes and beaches by taking the port and putting the port ten miles off shore."

Hyperloop One plans to run its transport pipelines underwater
Hyperloop One plans to run its transport pipelines underwater

In addition, Diamandis says that Hyperloop One is discussing underwater passenger travel.

Hyperloop One is also involved in initiatives for Russia and Finland and has announced that it is building a new construction facility at its Nevada test range. However, this string of announcements over the past two months are offset by the fact that the Hyperloop One has yet to address very fundamental questions as to the technical feasibility and commercial viability of its system.

In addition, with the clock ticking against its schedule for a test run of the full system by the end of this year, the company is embroiled in some very serious internal disputes. In June, one of its co-founders Brogan BamBrogan, resigned and filed a lawsuit against Hyperloop One citing financial mismanagement, nepotism, and harassment. Subsequently, the management slapped a countersuit for US$250 million against BamBrogan and others for violation of contract and attempting to stage a "coup" to take over the company.

In the end, whether this recent string of initiative announcements is a sign of a company moving forward or one in damage control is something that only the future can reveal.

Sources: Hyperloop One, Business Insider

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9 comments
GlassHalfEmpty
A port 10 miles off coast. Use underwater rail at 25mph vs. underwater hyperloop. 24 seconds vs. 1.2 seconds. Not worth it. Not to mention the speed wouldn't matter if container load and unload can't be as fast.
Roger Garrett
Utterly stupid. One of the main issues with the hyperloop is the strength needed for the tubes in order to withstand atmospheric pressure on the outside and near-vacuum inside. And now you're going to put it UNDERWATER, making the outside pressure hundreds of times greater???
VirtualGathis
@Roger Garrett - I think I see your point, but think you may have organized it in a way that is confusing. So I've tried to clarify it some: Creating tubes that are strong enough to withstand partial depressurization and the load moving through them at speed is difficult to do cheaply. This is one of the factors that will cause the hyperloop engineers no end of trouble.
Trying to create a tube wall that can withstand the water pressure at depth would involve greater forces and thus more expensive materials and manufacturing/assembly costs.
To respond to the implied idea: The depressurization of a tube at depth would change the equation so little that it would be almost negligible. The pressure outside the tube would be so great that adding a single atmosphere difference wouldn't change the difficulty greatly. Underwater tubes would be vastly more expensive per mile that it would be better to minimize them.
As an example it would be cheaper to build a tube that ran up to Alaska and connected the Americas via the Bering Straight to Asia than it would be to run a tube straight across the pacific. despite the first being much longer simply due to the difficulties of working at depth and the cost of the tube and its maintenance in such an environment.
Milton
@VirtualGathis - Very well explained.
As for the whole concept of the Hyperloop, I think Thunderfoot brings up a lot of excellent points in his de-bunking video on the topic.
Bob Flint
The technical feasibility is only limited by the amount of cash you throw at it..." BUT, "commercial viability of its system" is were every thing falls apart, or never even came close to being feasible.
Even now so early on in the game the law suits are already flying...
ei3io
Its amazing how such a foolish idea can get large funding. I would assume its simply sales hype talent which appears here to also be working on themselves.
Michael Dexter
I want to speak as a mechanical engineer who has actually read the entire hyperloop document and actually checked a fair amount of the specs using basic engineering methods and equations. It is totally feasible on every level. Some of you reference Thunderf00t's video, he has gotten pretty much every point wrong. @Roger Garrett the tubes described in the hyperloop document would be conservately rated at about 400 PSI which is much higher than is need for atmosphere and perfect vacuum (14.7 PSI). Yes it would depend on how deep underwater as the pressure increases rapidly but it would be achievable. @glasshalfempty, I agree if your whole goal is to just get it to shore it doesn't make a lot of sense but if you instead just introduce it in to the hyperloop network and send it from the port of LA all the way to San Francisco then it makes a whole lot more sense. The key would be minimizing the number of times it is loaded and off loaded. @VirtualGathis, I agree that an underwater rail system would be much more expensive than a ground based. However the cost of developing a port is truly astronmical and there is a reason that ports are in the locations that they are, usually they are the only favorable locations as far as harbor depth etc. If you can setup an off shore port that directly injects cargo containers into a hyperloop network it would truly revolutionize cargo transport as we know it. The cost of developing a port would be dramatically reduced, capacity issues which be addressed, and you could locate them virtually anywhere in the world. This is the essence of why this is a good idea and the hyperloop system is not just hype and marketing but a stroke of genius. @Milton, While your argument is valid, it would not apply to the hyperloop. Let's take Elon Musk's track record in engineering accomplishments. SpaceX has dramatically reduced the cost of space transport. Tesla is in the process dramatically reducing the cost of electric vehicles. It will achieve this once the Gigafactory is complete. Solarcity has made several advancements in reducing the cost of solar panel manufacturing. I for one am confident that Elon would not publish anything that doesn't actually have a very high likelihood of succeeding.
Future3000
Hahaha... nice! You discuss about tubes and technologies... the only thing Elon Musk wants, using "Hyperloop", is YOUR money via shares and taxpayers gift. He done this before via Tesla, SpaceX, Gigafactory and Solarcity... this is his business model: selling dreams and hopes for a better world, but building (mostly old) more or less shit! He had the chance to build a modern, advanced electric car... but he didn't. He had the chance to build a modern, advanced space transport system... but he didn't. He had the chance to build modern, advanced batteries... but he didn't. He had the chance to build modern, advanced solar cells... but he didn't. I say this, because I know all these technologies were offered to Elon Musk (his companies of course) in the last 13 years. Modern, cheap, powerful and advanced technologies for all his "dreams", ALL rejected! So why does he build and "develop" all this expensive "toys" when he could buy and build better solutions for less prices? Because he wants taxpayers gifts! Look how many billions he got and will get... 800 million $ for a carfactory he had never built where he promised, 7.5 billions via NASA... (probably), 3.7 billions for Gigafactory... and so on! wake up please! Years ago (before Tesla S) he could buy a electric car concept same size, security and luxury as Tesla S but half weight, more power, half price and 1.500 km range... but he didn't! He could buy a hybrid rocket engine concept nearly double power, half production price... but he didn't! He could buy a battery concept, 4 times higher power-density, but only 20% production costs as Gigafactory... but he didn't! He can buy a Photo Voltaic cell concept, 2 times higher density (40%), but only 35% production costs... but... (I don't know!) Why? Probably he doesn't know what's happen in his companies, then he's a bad, uninformed CEO, or he'll make it like "Better place"! He is not a dreamer, he is a tough, intelligent businessman! Think about it!
Stuart21
One thing you can be sure of, there will be absolutely no 'bends' in the tube, as per 'artists concept'. Any curves (if any) will be - extremely - gradual.