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Published on May 8th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Chinese Prototype Could Lead To 1,800 MPH Vacuum Tube Train

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Elon Musk thinks that  vacuum tube “hyperloops” are a better idea than high-speed rail, and he isn’t alone. Researchers in China have built a scale model tube train that could eventually lead to vehicles capable of traveling 1,800 MPH or faster.

Dr. Deng Zigang, associate professor of the Applied Superconductivity Laboratory at Southwest Jiaotong University, was the lead on a project to take the first steps towards a functioning, high-speed vacuum tube vehicle. Air is the limiting factor on making even faster high-speed trains, but vacuum tubes operate in a vacuum (duh), removing the air and letting even a low-power vessel operate at enormously high speeds.

How fast are we talking? Well Elon Musk is talking about 800 MPH tube trains that can shoot you from San Francisco to L.A. in less than 30 minutes, but Dr. Zigang predicts a ambitious 1,800 MPH.  S0 far though, the prototype created by the good doctor and his team can only accelerate to 30 MPH, due to the extremely compact test track they’ve built. The test vehicle operates via remote control, and if testing continues to go well, the most obvious next step is to build a much larger test track for higher speeds.

Seems too sci-fi to be real, but all this talk about vacuum tube vehicles has sparked a lot of talk in the tech community. If the technology is there, what’s holding us back from replacing costly high-speed trains and planes with vacuum tubes?

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Source: The Daily Mail | Images: Imaginechina/REX


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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • AGTMADCAT

    To answer your question directly, the thing preventing us from replacing “costly” high speed rail with vacuum tubes is the cost. They cost massively more per mile to build for the same capacity. Once they’re built, in theory they should be much cheaper to operate, but that pretty much never convinces Americans to go for the more expensive option.

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