At speeds of over 1000Km/hr, you could travel from Lagos to Abuja in a matter of minutes actually in a new transport concept called the Hyperloop. This concept is the brainchild of Elon Musk who is the CEO of Tesla the electric vehicle making company. Due to the complexity of the system, the primary focus is on intercity travels in the case of the United states which has a large land mass and interstate in Nigeria. So you could see travels from say Lagos Island to Osogbo or Abuja Municipal to Kafanchan. you get what I mean. But for the sake of this article, let’s deploy some scenarios in the original document released. So the distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco is over 610Km or 380 Miles with an average drive time of 6 hours and 25 minutes. In the Nigerian context, this could be a typical trip from Abuja to Sokoto or from Lagos to Delta barring heavy traffic. With this concept though, when you have steady speeds of over 1000Km/hr, you can be in your destination in about 30 minutes. The idea was born out of the California’s government’s plan to build a $60b high speed rail system of about 340Km/hr.
What is this system and how does it work?
Hyperloop works by transporting passengers in low pressure capsules or tubes propelled by magnets at speeds just under the speed of sound. In this document as presented by Elon Musk on the SpaceX website which you can read below, the Hyperloop transportation system can easily be broken down into these four components and again remember the scenario here is Los Angeles to San Francisco in the US state of California. Let me add that the constant earth quakes in Califronia has been taken into account and this may have overall effect in pricing from city to city across the world.
Pictorial representation of the Hyperloop system
- Capsule: a. Sealed capsules carrying 28 passengers each that travel along the interior of the tube depart on average every 2 minutes from Los Angeles or San Francisco (up to every 30 seconds during peak usage hours). Page 10 b. A larger system has also been sized that allows transport of 3 full size automobiles with passengers to travel in the capsule. c. The capsules are separated within the tube by approximately 23 miles (37 km) on average during operation. d. The capsules are supported via air bearings that operate using a compressed air reservoir and aerodynamic lift.
- Tube: a. The tube is made of steel. Two tubes will be welded together in a side-by-side configuration to allow the capsules to travel both directions. b. Pylons are placed every 100 ft (30 m) to support the tube. c. Solar arrays will cover the top of the tubes in order to provide power to the system.
- Propulsion: a. Linear accelerators are constructed along the length of the tube at various locations to accelerate the capsules. b. Rotors are located on the capsules to transfer momentum to the capsules via the linear accelerators.
- Route: a. There will be a station at Los Angeles and San Francisco. Several stations along the way will be possible with splits in the tube. b. The majority of the route will follow I-5 and the tube will be constructed in the median.
When can we expect to start seeing this?
A company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has now filed for permit for a 5 mile test of this concept that still sounds like a science fiction to many. The company is now looking at where it will place its pylons and doing soil tests. Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of this year and the service will open in 2018 to the public the COO Bibop Gresta told CBNC at the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland last Thursday.
The company has secured about $37m/7.3b Naira/3.6b KES of funding to do this while the idea of building the track from Los Angeles to San Francisco could cost as much as $8b/1.59tr Naira/817b KES.
As for us on this great continent, this may still remain a pipe dream due to the cost of acquiring this infrastructure at the moment. But first we all have to wait to see what HTT will bring out in 2018 before we fully embrace the seeming “science fiction”.
See the whitepaper below
See video on this from TechBooky TV