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Evacuated Tube Transport Technology makes "the big time" (Zeitgeist).




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I saw a show on using a air

I saw a show on using a air evacuated tube as a conduit for a train from the US to Europe. It would be mostly neutrally buoyant because of this and also allow the train to travel between continents in 1-2 hours. Of course there was also talk that you would need various safety systems because you are sending people hurtling through and airless tube at a couple thousand mph.
I find the idea to be fascinating and worthy of further thought. Its well within our technological capability to accomplish should someone wish to spend the money. At first it would probably cost quite a bit per ticket and this would make it mostly reserved for the wealthy/business travelers. Those with the money who need to travel between continents would certainly spend it to get there 4-6 times faster.

I think the idea of using it over land for freight has quite a bit of merit and would allow the idea to be perfected.

Indeed the reason it hasnt been done is due to cost but I think the potential to recoup the costs plus much more is more than worth the financial risk.

Commenting on actually removing the air from the tube. The amount of energy consumed would not be a prohibitively huge amount. You could stick a couple jet engine type driven air pumps at each end but it would still take quite a while to pump all the air out You would end up with huge savings from lack of air resistance when the train is traveling a couple thousand miles per hour.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

Trippy

I remember -- many years ago, when I was still a teenager, after hearing about the theoretical possibility of digging a train tunnel straight through the Earth from one point to another point thousands of miles away and then using gravity for both the "accelerating downward" trip and the "deceleration climb" back to the surface, I wondered if sucking all the air out of the tunnel would help counter resistance, and then I wondered if the energy required to suck out the air would exceed the energy required to give the train a traditional engine "boost," and then I lost interest in pursuing such an analysis and went outside to snowmobile or something.

I have no doubt about that

Watch for a "Big Project" announcement from tomorrow's global "leaders." It'll be like the TVA on super-steroids.

It's almost inexcusable that we don't have maglev

train / mass transit conduits in this country already--at least connecting major cities--but so goes life when the auto industry & big oil control our government and economy. It really sucks how utterly manipulated and screwed we have been in the last 50 - 60 years (Small example: big oil buying up electric interurban train and bus lines post WWII and scrapping them) just to keep a relative few people rich. And our ability to move freely in this country has always been kept in check. Think about it. We *think* we can move about in our cars, but most people can't / never have been able to afford to do this (as far as any real distances are concerned) without having to save a lot of dough relative to their incomes... never mind the amount of time travel takes by car. Figure in the cost of buying a car and car maintenance, too, plus roads, pollution, etc.. "Car culture"--as much as I like it, admittedly--is sorta F'd.

Add on being cheated out of Teslaean energy by our government, too. Real societal progress has been so often stymied by those in power. I know complaining does nothing, but it is surreal to step back and take in the larger view!

And people often whine about how expensive hyper-efficient transport is/ would have been, but once again: our country could have afforded just about anything if we hadn't allowed ourselves to be locked into the cycles of pursuing costly unjust foreign military actions, wars, foreign aid, propping up the UN, IMF, corporate welfare, inefficient general welfare / entitlements, debt slavery to the Fed / elite, etc. etc. etc.

Craziness.

What would the Founders do?

It sure is.

The reason we don't have them is two-fold. One is cost (which is another ruse - see below) and the other is because our current railroad industry got the word "rail" legally defined as "steel wheels on steel rails". This stops all maglev proposals in their tracks because people just aren't smart enough to replace the word 'rail' in their stupid proposals! That's the biggest hurdle to date. Amazing.

Cost is another factor. Everyone THINKS it's expensive so that makes it expensive. Here's how. Without looking at cost, they start with the premise that it's expensive. Then they try to cut that through economies of scale. Their idea is always bigger trains to move more people with less car and track cost. As this continues, the tracks now need to support up to 80 ton trains. This means they need to be gigantic concrete-supported overhead 'roads' with two sided maglev systems for levitation and two more for steering. So now we have more concrete than a 3 lane highway PLUS the electrical part. Nonsense.

Instead, maglev should be used to hang the car, not push under it. This means a single track can do the trick. This also means that smaller cars are cheaper because they don't have steering, suspension, connections to the next car, or anything else. They can simply be a "T" shaped plate of aluminum with a 150 lb. carbon fiber egg hanging from it. With passengers, the total weight is around 1,000 lbs. With bulk freight filling the car, it could work up to 1,500 lbs. This now means the track can be small enough to hang on existing telephone poles (within reason). Since the track is 90% of the cost in all maglev, we just eliminated 95% of 90% of the cost and materials of the whole system. This makes it cheaper than cars, taxis, buses, trains, planes, commuter rail and even motorcycles. It also means that new rights of way are unnecessary and new ground need not be purchased. It's even small enough to fly directly into the lobby of high traffic areas. (Think malls, stadiums, schools, factories, concerts.)

For this "compromise" we gained the ability to run these tracks through neighborhoods (to within a couple blocks of any urban location) for less cost. So, we're not only saving money but we have also eliminated the 'last mile' problem where people had to drive to the train station. Since it's autonomous, we have eliminated half of the trip on deliveries. (Think school kids, pizzas, store deliveries, distribution hubs, drunk friends and coffee runs.)

In short, this allows people to travel distances of from 2 miles up to 300 miles, faster than any combination of existing methods available to date. (Until hover cars become available)

I analyzed my small town (12k pop) and found that it would cost 1/3rd of a brand new car to each family to buy and own AND OPERATE this system outright. It covers main tracks, side tracks and 50 loading zones. Private docks at $17k ea. would be paid for by the mall, wall-mart, school and factories. This way pays for ongoing costs so the people could ride completely free without being tracked. To connect to the next town would add another 1/4 of a brand new car.

Fascinating!

Thanks for sharing that analysis!

What would the Founders do?

What's the protocal for the airlock?

One is routinely trapped, with a limited air supply?

That's super easy.

It just needs to be designed by an engineer, not a politician.

That answer

is suffocatingly brief, compared to your technical explanations below. It's a great idea for freight. My bank teller endorses...

Congratulations!

You're the first person to ever accuse me of giving too SHORT of an explanation! :) I don't have a thought out method in mind, but I'll try to cover a few possibilities.

To do an airlock, we would need a sealed chamber with a door for entry from the outside and another for transition to the tube. Both need to be air tight and the tx one might need to be extremely fast acting. The reason is that just like popping the mylar on the firing end of the ping-pong ball cannon, the air will rush in very fast and cause the car (ball) to accelerate the highest rate at the earliest time. In short, the doors need to be out of the way before the car shoots through them.

Alternatively, a longer airlock chamber could be used to give a buffer distance for the car to travel before it hits a door that hasn't fully opened yet. Of course, this needs to be calculated so the right amount of total air is ahead and behind the car at the time the door is fired. This is critical to the travel vacuum and to the air bunching at the slow-down stage. Either way, it's nothing more than a trade-off of top speed vs. vacuum pumping costs at the beginning vs. door opening speeds. Perhaps some 20 sided wedge-shaped door could be fashioned like the shutter on a camera where the mass of each piece is still small enough to move very quickly.

That is not even remotely

reassuring. I'm still trapped in a can inside a tube with a finite air supply.

Oh, you're worried about THAT airlock?

That's the easy one. Check out Scaled Composites (Burt Rutan's company for the X-prize, etc.) for lots of cheap ways to make an egg shape that withstands a vacuum. Keep in mind that holding in air pressure against a vacuum is only 14.7 PSI and we have numerous examples of placing people in a chamber where the outside differs by hundreds of PSI.

And if you're worried about disaster, the only way it would be dangerous is if the tunnel burst open RIGHT WHERE YOU HAPPENED TO BE as you passed into it. At any other point, the burst would let in air which would push you completely away from the danger and toward the safety of the end of the pipe. Everything else is also failsafe because any failure let's air in which slows the car down.

Comfy now?

Can the egg

ever become stopped in a section of airless tube?

Bill and Ted's Excellent adventure

The original idea for this, there were telephone booth's on each end of the tube, and it not only traveled through space, it traveled through time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrGWooNDPiE

and the really cool thing, was that George Carlin was in charge!

Some design ideas using this technology was for transatlantic

Travel across the ocean. The proposal was to suspend the tube on cables under the Atlantic ocean, for a London to New York high speed transport system.

Innovative Idea

However, it won't work until Daryl stops being so stubborn.

Five years ago, some other engineers and I argued with him on Picken's Plan's site that he should get rid of his bicycle wheels to support his cars. (He had it running on 3 of them). Our point was that regardless of how large the wheel and how small the bearings, the bearing speeds would not last an entire trip at those speeds (4k). We said he had to go with maglev. We parted ways with him mad that we didn't support his idea.

Now he's promoting maglev. Unfortunately, he's using a standard maglev and that won't work either (very well at least). Standard maglev systems will require the entire length of tubes to be lined with magnets at the bottom. Rare earth magnets don't exist in enough quantities to do this and coils of wires would require an electrified backbone to run the length of the pipe. This is also too expensive. Maintaining a cryogenic temp plate under the car wouldn't be cheap either.

However, if he used Doug Malewiki's Induct-Track and air pressure to transport the cars, it would work cheap, easy and fast.

Induct-Track is a PASSIVE maglev system where the levitation energy comes from inducing drag on forward motion. The neat part is these properites:

1) It doesn't levitate below 1 mph
2) Max drag is at 1 mph
3) It decreases drag from 1 mph up 14 mph
4) It has negligible drag above 14 mph
5) It needs only aluminum plates mounted in the car
6) It needs only lengths of stacked aluminum plates in the track
7) Over 14 mph, it glides as free as standard maglev with no energy input.

You can find Induct-Track online, in Wikipedia, at NASA's site or on Doug's Skytran.net website.

By using air pressure to propel the car, you kill two birds with one stone. Plus you get to integrate both Daryl's and Doug's systems together.

If the tube was evacuated to a specific level of vacuum, and you quickly dumped some air into it behind the car (say from the airlock procedure which is needed), that air would shoot the car down the barrel of the tube like a gun. Balancing this force against inertia, any G-force could be obtained. This leaves a controlling air pressure in the tube which aids at the other end.

When the car approaches the far end, this air builds pressure in front of the car to slow it down. The energy absorbed from the momentum can be controllably used to power a turbo pump to create the next shot's vacuum, recouping 90% of the trip energy for use in the next trip. Mostly, however, it is used to ramp the current cars speed down to 14 mph by a certain point so it can be stopped exactly in the airlock. Look up youtube videos of a ping pong ball cannon where people shoot a ping pong ball through pop cans and 1/2" plywood... UNHARMED.

If we had a Skytran infrastructure in place, you could start from your corner on a trip, ride at 45 mph nonstop to the tube terminal, put your car in the airlock, get shot LA to NYC or SF Bay to Tokyo, exit the airlock, travel nonstop at 200 mph to some town, travel at 45 mph through that town, and eat lunch within 1 to 4 hours anywhere in the world. Private car, totally silent, one entry/exit, 1/20th of the energy of the best current transportation now, WiFi the whole way and with a cost of under $0.05 per mile.

Only when the entrenched monopolies quit fighting these technologies and the people start working to solve people's problems, not just get uber rich, will we get the advancements that we could have.

To hell with not getting uber rich

If this really works you could do a great service to society, AND get uber rich. In this case it could work, would work, and someone would actually build it. I think we need a forward thinking town to build a working test system to prove that it will actually work. Once you do that it is easy from then on.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

I agree with your last paragraph. However, I feel you are...

incorrect regarding the requirement for "rare earth magnets". http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/powerful-chorusr-mot...

I didn't say rare earth magnets were a requirement

I said, "Rare earth magnets don't exist in enough quantities to do this AND coils of wires would require an electrified backbone to run the length of the pipe. This is also too expensive." (emphasis added)

Chorus still uses electrified coils of copper wire laid flat, next to each other, along the entire length of the tube. This means hundreds of tons of copper, lots of electricity, lots of electronics and lots of maintenance will be spread out over the 4,000 miles from LA to NYC or the 3,500 miles from NYC to London. Then if you want another one to any other continent or major city or cross any other ocean... You get the idea.

Why would you want to electrify the entire length of pipe when a passive solution exists? Sure, Induct-Track cannot support a full sized train like traditional maglev but don't we prefer commuter cars to trains anyway?

The evacuated tubes 'CAN' be made from concentrated solar heat, sand and some other creative stuff mixed in... in an extruded, air-tight system that inserts flat C-shaped plates of aluminum in the ceiling as it goes. Other than external suspension, this is all that would be needed. This is much more sustainable than continuing our civilization's dependence on increasingly rare resources. Aluminum is not even on the radar of "rare".

Even if this system just moved commodities

long distance, the fuel savings would be huge. The semi truck tractors could pick up the freight loads from the tube transport for local deliveries and reduce long haul trucking significantly.