LoopTransPort 2018

UCLA, California | July 23 - 24, 2018

Join us at the University of California, Los Angeles for the

1st HARP International Conference on Hyperloop and Related Technologies

Hyperloop does not exist in a vacuum: the challenges and opportunities of putting maglev in a tube


Dr. Jesse Powell


The idea of vactrains is an old one: transport people at high speed in pods within an evacuated or partially evacuated tunnel. The idea goes back to the 19th century with George Medhurst, who patented the idea in 1799, for a pod propelled by differential air pressure within a pneumatic tube. Later, others presented their own versions of the vactrain (using maglev technology instead of pneumatic systems), including Robert Goddard (1904), Robert Salter of the Rand Corporation (1972), Marcel Jufer of SwissMetro (1980s), James Powell of The Maglev 2000 of Florida corporation (1995), and most recently, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. As previous research into vactrains has demonstrated, it is relatively easy to build a transport system that goes very fast in a straight line, but it is extremely difficult to build a real-world Hyperloop system that includes curving routes, 1000+ km-long, robust vacuum systems (capable of withstanding both environmental swings and security threats), all while providing a compelling economic model for affordable transportation. In this talk, I shall examine the advantages and disadvantages of different levitation and propulsion methods available for future Hyperloop systems, and examine which applications offer the most compelling advantage for Hyperloop over other transportation technologies. I will also discuss subsurface, ocean-crossing Hyperloops as well as space launch system like Startram. Finally, I conclude with some thoughts on the future of transportation and the efficient build-out of hyperloop network infrastructure.