A hyperloop, as you may have heard, is an ultra-high-speed ground transportation system for passenger and cargo. It could see freight and passengers travelling as high as 760mph (1,220 km/h), in a ‘floating’ pod which shoots through giant, low-pressure tubes, either above or below ground. It is a newer form of transport, currently being explored and developed by a number of companies. A hyperloop technology is still in development even though the basic concept has been around for many years. The earliest hyperloop was likely to be up and running by 2020 but most services are expected to be later, as trials of the technology are still in their early stages. There are two big differences between hyperloop and traditional rail. Firstly, the pods carrying passengers travel through tubes or tunnels from which most of the air has been removed to reduce friction. This should allow the pods to travel at up to 760 miles per hour. Secondly, rather than using wheels like a train or car, the pods are designed to float on air skis, using the same basic idea as an air hockey table, or use magnetic
levitation to reduce friction.
A hyperloop could be cheaper and faster than train or car travel, and cheaper and less
polluting than air travel. It is also quicker and cheaper to build than traditional highspeed
rail. A hyperloop could therefore be used to take the pressure off gridlocked
roads, making travel between cities easier, and potentially unlocking major economic
benefits as a result.
What is the history of a hyperloop?
The idea of using low-pressure or vacuum tubes as part of a transport system has
a long heritage. The Crystal Palace Pneumatic Railway used air pressure to push a
wagon uphill (and a vacuum to drag it back down) way back in Victorian south London
in 1864. Similar systems using pneumatic tubes to send mail and packages between
buildings have been in use since the late nineteenth century, and can still be seen in
supermarkets and banks to move money around today.
One clear predecessor of the hyperloop is the ‘vactrain’ concept developed by Robert
Goddard early in the twentieth century; since then, many similar ideas have been
proposed without much success.
However, it was entrepreneur Elon Musk who really reignited interest in the concept
with his ‘Hyperloop Alpha’ paper in August 2013, which set out how a modern system
would work and how much it would cost.
How does a hyperloop tube work?
The basic idea of hyperloop as envisioned by Musk is that the passenger pods or capsules travel through a tube, either above or below ground. To reduce friction, most but not all of the air is removed from the tubes by pumps. Overcoming air resistance is one of the biggest uses of energy in high speed travel. Airliners climb to high altitudes to travel through less dense air; in order to create a similar effectat ground level, hyperloop encloses the capsules in a reduced-pressure tube, effectively allowing the trains to travel at airplane speeds while still on the ground.
In Musk’s model, the pressure of the air inside the hyperloop tube is about one-sixth
the pressure of the atmosphere on Mars (a notable comparison as Mars is another of
Musk’s interests). This means an operating pressure of 100 pascals, which reduces
the drag force of the air by 1,000 times relative to sea level conditions, and would be
equivalent to flying above 150,000 feet.
How do hyperloop capsules work?
The hyperloop capsules in Musk’s model float above the tube’s surface on a set of 28
air-bearing skis, similar to the way that the puck floats just above the table on an air
hockey game. One major difference is that it is the pod, not the track, which generates
the air cushion in order to keep the tube as simple and cheap as possible. Other versions
of hyperloop use magnetic levitation rather than air skis to keep the passenger pods
above the tracks. The pod would get its initial velocity from an external linear electric
motor, which would accelerate it to ‘high subsonic velocity’
and then give it a boost every 70 miles or so; in between, the pod would coast along
in near vacuum. Each capsule could carry 28 passengers (other versions aim to carry
up to 40) plus some luggage; another version of the pods could carry cargo and vehicles.
Pods would depart every two minutes (or every 30 seconds at peak usage.
How would a hyperloop be powered?
The pods will get their velocity from an external linear electric motor-effectively a
round induction motor (like the one in the Tesla Model S) rolled flat. Under Musk’s
model, the Hyperloop would be powered by solar panels placed on the top of the tube
which would allow the system to generate more energy than it needs to run.
What will it feel like to travel in a hyperloop?
Critics of hyperloop have warned that travelling in the tube might be an uncomfortable
experience, due to nausea-inducing acceleration, plus lateral G-force on bends in the
route. However, Virgin Hyperloop One says that a journey via hyperloop will feel
about the same as riding in an elevator or a passenger plane.
“Although a hyperloop will be fast, the systems we are building will accelerate
with the same tolerable G-forces as that of taking off in a Boeing 747,” it said.
Acceleration and deceleration will be gradual, it added, with no G-forces and
Travelling in a concrete pipe in a windowless pod means there isn’t going to be much
to look at; Musk’s original vision said that “beautiful landscape will be displayed in
the cabin” and each passenger will have access to their own personal entertainment
Will a hyperloop be a success?
That’s the huge, multibillion dollar and, as yet, unanswered question. The concept has
been around for a long time, but until now the technology has been lacking. This time
around, it’s possible that the technology may have just caught up with the concept.
There are well-funded companies racing to be the first to deliver a working service
but, despite their optimistic timescales, these projects are still very much in the pilot
and experimental stages. Going from short test routes to hundreds of kilometres of
track is a big jump that none of these firms has made yet.
If the technology is still in development, that’s also very true of the business models
to support it. The success of hyperloop will vary depending on the destinations, local
economics, and geography. Trying to build a new line overland across England, for
example, can prove an expensive and complicated business which can take many
years (as the ongoing HS2 controversy has shown). In other countries where land is
cheaper or where routes can travel through less populated areas, it may be easier to
get services up and running faster.
Capacity is another issue. It’s not clear that hyperloop can do a better job of moving a
large number of people than other mass transit options. Critics argue that lots of pods
will be required to achieve the same passenger numbers as more traditional rail, which
uses much bigger carriages. And there are many engineering hurdles to overcome,
like building the tubes strong enough to deal with the stresses of carrying the highspeed
pods, and finding energy- and cost- efficient ways to keep them operating at low
Moving from a successful test to a full commercial deployment is a big jump, and
passenger trials are still to come. Assuming that consumers are happy being zoomed
around in these tubes, finding the right price for the service will be vital, too.
Right now hyperloop is at an experimental stage, even if the companies involved are
very keen to talk about its potential.
Working with words
A. Choose the correct words from the box to complete the following sentences.
freight levitation gridlock pneumatic predecessor
envisioned equivalent subsonic turbulence deceleration
a. I think that covering up the facts is ……………………to lying really.
b. If there is not a substantial move to public transport, we will
have …………………… and the whole regeneration will not work.
c. Each new leader would blame his …………… for all the evils of the past.
d. We have, in fact, ………………a better world and have made it happen.
e. The main linear actuators of the……………………systems are cylinders
f. The barrel was short and the bullet emerged at……………………speed.
g. The city is said to receive two-fifths of the total……………………delivered
in the country.
h. It would still take four hours to get down, in a spiral of…………………….
i. Apparently, the magician will be doing some …………………… on the
j. We might be experiencing some …………………… on this flight due to
an approaching electrical storm.
B. Add three more words that are formed with the following prefixes.
a. hyper- : hyperloop, …………….., …………….., ……………..
b. ultra- : ultrahigh, …………….., …………….., ……………..
c. up-: uphill, …………….., …………….., ……………..
d. over-: overcoming, …………….., …………….., ……………..
e. multi-: multibillion, …………….., …………….., ……………..
Answer the following questions.
a. What is a hyperloop? How does it work?
b. How is hyperloop more beneficial than the traditional trains?
c. Does hyperloop have a successful history? How?
d. Write the contributions of Robert Goddard and Elon Musk for the development
e. What relation does speed have with air resistance? Explain.
f. What are hyperloop capsules compared with? How are they similar?
g. How do the passengers feel while travelling via hyperloop? What will be done to
make it luxurious?
h. Why does the writer doubt about the success of hyperloop? What does the
success depend on?
a. Is the hyperloop the future of transportation or just a dream? What do you think?
Justify your opinion with suitable reasons.
b. The number of private vehicles is increasing day by day in Nepal beyond the
capacity of our infrastructure. What do you think should be done to curb the
ever-growing number of private vehicles? Discuss.
A. Read the press release issued by Bahamasair about their irregular operations.
B. Suppose you are the General Manager of Nepal Airlines. Issue a press release
on behalf of the airlines about the cancellation of flights to the mountain regions
due to the poor weather condition.
Grammar (Subject verb agreement)
A. Study the following examples.
a. Neither she nor I am guilty.
b. I am not sure whether you or he has created the trouble.
c. Either the students or their English teacher is responsible for the
d. Neither boiling of water with the express purpose of destroying bacteria
and other parasites nor other purification methods were employed in
B. Rewrite the following sentences with the correct form of the verbs in the
a. The invitation is for one person. I don’t mind whether you or she (come)
to the party.
b. Neither the MPs nor the Prime Minister (have) felt regret for the party split.
c. I don’t care whether he or she (win) the lottery.
d. Either the Kantipur or the Republica (be) used for the advertisement.
e. She speaks in a strange accent. Neither I nor my sister (understand) her.
f. I forgot whether the singers or the actress (be) given the Film Fair Award
g. Neither the tracksuit nor the pajamas (fit) me perfectly.
h. Neither the gas fire nor the electric heaters (be) suitable for room heating.
C. This passage contains the agreement errors. Correct the subjects or verbs that don’t agree with each other. Remember to use present tense in your corrections.
Within the state of Arizona, Rob, along with his family, move frequently, from city
to city. After his arrival, one of his first tasks are to find an apartment close to work
as he do not have a car. Usually, there is many different places to choose from, and
he consider cost, location, and luxury. If one apartment has a washing machine and
dryer and cost four hundred dollars a month, he prefer to rent it over another apartment
which have significantly less rent located two blocks from a Laundromat. Rob’s family
never wants to live in an apartment on the thirteenth floor since all of them fears
heights. He also try to choose an apartment with landlords recommended by former
tenants. Everybody know that it is important to find a responsible landlord. Rob and
his wife loves to cook together when both is free, so he need a spacious, well-equipped
kitchen. Rob often also look for a place with an air conditioner because there is so
many scorching days and nights in Arizona. Whenever Rob find a new apartment, all
of his concerns disappears. He feel relieved and call his mother. Someone understands!
People have been using different technologies for a long to make their works easy. In
our communities too, people used many traditional technologies which are no longer
in practice. Meet some elderly people in your community and ask them about such
technologies. Write a report and share it to the class.