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Elon Musk Reveals Hyperloop Plans

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Ladies and gentlemen, Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) CEO Elon Musk's long-awaited preliminary Hyperloop plans have finally been revealed.

Musk via Twitter pointed us to this link, where we could take a look at the alpha design for his revolutionary mass transportation system, one he says that could take passengers from downtown L.A. to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes.

As he explains, the system would be comprised of pods traveling in tubes suspended on pylons that follow alongside the mostly straight California Interstate 5 highway.

Contrary to what some have speculated about the design, there is not a complete vacuum in the tubes to avoid high-speed drag, nor does it ride on an electromagnetic suspension system to do away with surface friction, like the Japanese bullet trains.

Keeping hard vacuum in a system of tubes hundreds of miles long is just not practical, so Musk's plans call for drag to be done away with by partially evacuating air from the tubes and mounting "an electric compressor fan on the nose of the pod that actively transfers high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel."

And surface friction would be mitigated by using air bearings, the phenomenon that allows air hockey pucks to zip along. Air bearings "have been demonstrated to work at speeds of Mach 1.1 with very low friction," says Musk.

And where would the power come from to operate the Hyperloop? From the sun, of course, though the electricity produced by solar panels on top of the tubes would not necessarily be stored in batteries. Musk suggests storing the energy in "the form of compressed air that runs an electric fan in reverse to generate energy."

Just moments after Musk announcing these plans, he tweeted that an updated version, with corrections, was forthcoming.

Editor's note: The wording in this story concerning vacuum in the tubes has been updated.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 12, 2013, at 10:30 PM, Grumpycat wrote:

    We used to send plastic mailing tubes through a network of air fed pipes in the hospital I worked at 30 years ago. There were instances where they got stuck.

    So we're supposed to be shot through a gun barrel at 800 MPH in oversize mailing tubes? What a horrifying prospect.

    No thanks, Elon.

    Go back to playing with your rockets.

  • Report this Comment On August 12, 2013, at 10:41 PM, StanO6 wrote:

    @ DanRadovsky, you need to re-read the spec. There is in fact less than atmospheric pressure in the tube.

    @Grumpycat, ha-ha-ha... You joker, you!

    Go Elon! What a fantastic stroke of brilliance!

  • Report this Comment On August 13, 2013, at 10:09 AM, XMFDRadovsky wrote:


    I stand corrected. The specs do indeed call for a partially evacuated tube.

    Thank you,


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