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What Is Hyperloop And How Does It Works in India?

Introduction:

  • It is a system of magnetically levitating capsules (pods) that travels at high speeds through low-pressure steel tubes without any friction.
  • The principle of magnetic levitation (Maglev) is used to propel the pods inside the tubes and the air bearings are implemented to levitate the pods.
  • The pod would initially be launched with an electric motor before magnetic levitation takes place and the pod can glide at cruising speed in the low-pressure environment.
  • It can draw energy from any source including solar panels, windmills or even nuclear reactors.
  • It is still in trial stages in various countries and not been implemented for practical use anywhere in the world yet.

Whose idea was Hyperloop?

Hyperloop is the brainchild of SpaceX and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk who dubs it as the fifth mode of transportation.

Hyperloop technology is completely open-sourced by Musk so others can take the ideas and further develop them.

One, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, and Transport are some of the prominent companies that are working on hyperloop projects around the world.

Need for hyperloop Technology

  • Developments in conventional high-speed railway technology have not made much progress in recent years.
  • From steam to diesel to electric, locomotives have disadvantages of weight and drag.
  • Frictional losses also come into play when a locomotive relies on wheels.
  • When speeds accelerate, mechanical wear and tear result in high maintenance costs.
  • In hyperloop, magnetic levitation and air bearings improve speed and remove the problem of friction.

Advantages of Hyperloop Train:

  • Due to the sealed environment which causes little or no friction, hyperloop can reach a speed up to 1000 km/h which is 2 to 3 times faster than the bullet train and even commercial aircraft.
  • Compared to railways, it has a smaller civil engineering footprint, with no direct emissions or noise as it uses solar panels to generate electricity and maglev creates no noise.
  • It needs relatively less ground to cover and it uses its own solar panels to generate electricity. Hyperloop’s capital cost per mile is 60% of high-speed rail and also less expensive to operate. Due to this, the fare can be much cheaper compared to aircraft or bullet trains.
  • Hyperloop departures could happen with a low frequency of every 20 seconds which is impossible in railways.
  • Less prone to human errors because the system is fully automated and sealed.
  • Less land requirement because steel tubes can be either built on a column or tunneled underground.
  • Hyperloop can draw energy from any source such as solar panels, windmills, and even nuclear reactors.
  • Resistant to earthquakes: because the Hyperloop would be built on columns with two adjustable lateral dampers, so the tube would not be rigidly fixed to the ground. This would allow it to absorb the force of movement and not be shattered by it.
  • Immune to bad weather conditions.

Challenges

  • It needs heavy investment and effective coordination between the public and private sectors for implementing it.
  • It consumes a high amount of electricity compared to railways.
  • High speed of capsule at the speed of sound may cause dizziness to the passengers because of vibration and jostling
  • Hyperloop is highly susceptible to disruption from a power outage.
  • The long vacuum chamber manufacturing needs more technical skills.
  • Hyperloop uses steel for the track, it expands and changes shape when the outside temperature is changed. This may destroy the track of hyperloop technology
  • Land use rights will also be a concern for the implementation of the project.
  • Accidents: It has a very high risk to life when some malfunction happens to the automated system.
  • Environmental damage: The installation of infrastructure needs cutting of a large number of trees.

Status of hyperloop in India

  • In July 2017, NITI Aayog has approved 6 proposals of the Ministry of Transport for improving public transport through high-tech mass rapid transportation techs such as hyperloop, metrino, pod taxis, Stadler buses, hybrid buses, and freight railroad.
  • In September 2017, Andhra Pradesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HIT) for developing the project. The proposed Hyperloop will cover 35 km distance between Vijayawada and Amaravati within 5 minutes.
  • In February 2018. Maharashtra signed an agreement with Virgin group to build a Hyperloop connecting Mumbai and Pune reducing travel time from 3 hours to just 25 minutes.

Way Forward

With rising global warming and climate change, Hyperloop provides scope for environmental-friendly transportation with very high speed. However, the technical and other challenges need to be addressed for the effective implementation of the project.

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