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?
Source: The Daily Mail | Images: Imaginechina/REX