• 4 minutes Trump will meet with executives in the energy industry to discuss the impact of COVID-19
  • 8 minutes Charts of COVID-19 Fatality Rate by Age and Sex
  • 11 minutes Why Trump Is Right to Re-Open the Economy
  • 13 minutes Its going to be an oil bloodbath
  • 5 mins While China was covering up Covid-19 it went on an international buying spree for ventilators and masks. From Jan 7th until the end of February China bought 2.2 Billion masks !
  • 4 hours US Shale Resilience: Oil Industry Experts Say Shale Will Rise Again
  • 42 mins Ten days ago Trump sent New York Hydroxychloroquine. Being administered to infected. Covid deaths dropped last few days. Fewer on ventilators. Hydroxychloroquine "Cause and Effect" ?
  • 2 hours Real Death Toll In CCP Virus May Be 12X Official Toll
  • 4 hours China Takes Axe To Alternative Energy Funding, Slashing Subsidies For Solar And Wind
  • 2 hours Marine based energy generation
  • 6 hours Today 127 new cases in US, 99 in China, 778 in Italy
  • 1 hour What If ‘We’d Adopted A More Conventional Response To This Epidemic?’
  • 2 hours How to Create a Pandemic
  • 3 hours Apple to Bypass Internet and Beam Directly to Phones
  • 9 hours Which producers will shut in first?
  • 18 hours TRUMP pushing Hydroxychloroquine + Zpak therapy forward despite FDA conservative approach. As he reasons, "What have we got to lose ?"
Alt Text

The Only Logical End To The Oil War

By breaking the oil war…

Alt Text

The Oil Giant Drowning In Debt

Oil major ExxonMobil has not…

Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald

Michael is an assistant professor of finance and a frequent consultant to companies regarding capital structure decisions and investments. He holds a PhD in finance…

More Info

Premium Content

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Takes a Step Forward

For the first time in close to a century, mankind may be about to give serious attention to a technology that has the potential to be a true game-changer in transportation.

Elon Musk famously proposed the idea of the Hyperloop a few years ago, and suggested it could be a revolutionary method for travel based on available technology today. The Hyperloop has already created extreme controversy with skeptics citing everything from the cost of land in California to the substantial g-forces that would impact passengers being accelerated from 0 to 700+ miles per hour in a short span of time. Yet while there are reasons to be cautious about the technology, the Hyperloop should also be cheered as the continuation of a long tradition of American innovation and pushing the boundaries of the human experience. Related: This Merger Could Be A Game Changer For U.S. Pipeline Network

Now Musk’s Hyperloop looks set to take its first tentative steps towards reality as a test version of the track is nearing the construction phase. This begs an interesting question – if the Hyperloop works, how big of a disruptive force would it be for the airline industry? The Hyperloop certainly has other (arguably simpler) market opportunities than moving people, such as disrupting the air freight or trucking industry, but those are issues for another time. For today, it’s useful to just think about the impact of the Hyperloop on the airline industry.

In practice the Hyperloop’s ability to compete with airlines is going to be driven by a combination of price of tickets and travel time. Price, in turn, will be substantially impacted by energy costs for transporting passengers in the Hyperloop. The technology behind the actual test track of the Hyperloop is well proven, but not on the scale that Musk and others need to see for the Hyperloop to actually function. Instead, there are a few possible ways to power a Hyperloop capsule in theory. Related: What The Oil And Gas Industry Is Not Telling Investors

The Hyperloop capsule represents something like a cross between the pneumatic tubes found at banks and hospitals today (and which once crossed miles of cities decades ago) and a maglev train. Determining exactly how much power a Hyperloop would require is tricky at this stage but it’s also an important issue. One of the reasons that some previously new transportation ideas, like hovercraft, have never really gotten off the ground is their massive energy requirements.

So how much energy would be needed to “shoot” a Hyperloop canister along the tube? The proposal from Musk originally envisioned a constant energy source in the form of a compressor rather than simple impulse acceleration (like a bullet). It’s not totally clear if the new test tracks will deviate from the original proposal or not, but assuming that the designers stick to roughly what Musk originally proposed, a 436 hp (325 KW) capsule motor would be required. Related: Putin Is Taking A Big Risk With China Gas Deals

For comparison, trains’ locomotives frequently have around 4,000 horsepower, while a typical car often has around 150 hp. The biggest challenge here is how much friction the system will face from the air around it. In particular, the system needs to produce a large enough pressure in order to move the capsule along the track. The math behind the mechanics of moving the tube is a little complex, but a back of the envelope calculation based on Force, Pressure, Area and Ideal Gas law calculations suggest Musk’s estimates are reasonable. (For those interested, a good overview of the relevant mechanics properties are here).

Overall, the Hyperloop would use perhaps as little as 27 kW of power per passenger (assuming a very conservative 6 passengers per tube and a 30 minute travel time on the trip). The power requirement increases if the tube size increases of course, but on a per passenger basis that is relatively irrelevant. Essentially the math here suggests that a Hyperloop tube could move passengers for as little as a few dollars each in energy. The real issue that will determine feasibility then is the capital expenditure cost for the Hyperloop. More on that in a future article.

By Michael McDonald of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:


Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage






Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News