What is Hyperloop? How it works?

The Ministry of Railways has announced that it’s going to collaborate with IIT Madras for the development of a made-in-India Hyperloop system. It has also announced that it’ll be setting up a Centre for Excellence for Hyperloop technologies at IIT Madras.

What is Hyperloop?

Hyperloop is a concept of high-speed transportation where pressurised vehicles (or pods) travel through a low-pressure tunnel allowing for movement through the atmosphere at almost no resistance, similar to air travel. A hyperloop is a proposed high-speed transportation system for both public and goods transport. The term was popularized by Elon Musk to describe a modern project based on the vactrain concept (first appearance 1799).

Example – Imagine, an aircraft like speed on land, travelling through low-pressure tunnels from one terminal to another. The pods would move via mag-lev technology that would enable the frictionless ride.

How Hyperloop works?

Hyperloop designs employ three essential components: tubes, pods, and terminals. The tube is a large sealed, low-pressure system (usually a long tunnel). The pod is a coach pressurized at atmospheric pressure that runs substantially free of air resistance or friction inside this tube, using aerodynamic or magnetic propulsion. The terminal handles pod arrivals and departures.

Benefits of Hyperloop

It’s claimed that Hyperloop could be cheaper and faster than train or car travel, and cheaper and less polluting than air travel. They claim that it’s also quicker and cheaper to build than traditional high-speed rail.

IIT Madras’ Avishkar Hyperloop

IIT Madras’s Avishkar Hyperloop which was formed in 2017 had been working on scalability and frugal engineering concepts for the development of a Hyperloop based transportation system for India. In March 2022, the institution approached the Ministry of Railways with a proposal for collaborative working on a prototype as well as the development of a first-of-its-kind Hyperloop Test facility at its Discovery campus located at Thaiyur. After being set up, the proposed facility could offer the world’s largest Hyperloop Vacuum Tube that can be used as a Test Bed for future research for a Hyperloop system for the Indian Railways.