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The Bulletin

The Hyperloop might actually work

Posting in Design

Last month Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur of Tesla, PayPal, and Space X fame, unveiled his idea for a transit system that seemed both crazy and crazy awesome. The Hyperloop is his idea for a super-fast tube travel system that would send passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in about 30 minutes. That would be much faster than the high-speed rail California is currently building and cheaper -- around $6-10 billion, according to Musk.

It's an amazing idea, but could it actually work?

The answer: yes, according to Ansys, a company that makes software for engineering simulation, which ran simulations based on Musk's Hyperloop report. But as Discovery News reports, the findings from the simulation show the original Hyperloop concept would need some tweaks.

First the team combined the various artist renderings to create a basic Hyperloop capsule and tube design. Then they simulated airflow conditions inside the tube and made several discoveries. One was that both the diameter of the tube and the passenger capsule need adjusting. They’re too close together. Another was that the capsule shape wasn’t aerodynamic enough — it should be more rocket-like at the front and conical at the tail end instead of dipping down.

The Ansys group’s first Hyperloop design revealed that, as is, the air flow would become sonic or even supersonic. Not good. Pushing that enormous air column ahead would be energy-consuming and make travel practically infeasible, Sovani said. Ideally the air wouldn’t be flowing as fast or faster than the speed of sound. But this doesn’t mean the Hyperloop won’t work. These are merely challenges to overcome, not dead ends.

So you're telling me there's a chance. Awesome.

Read more: Discovery News

Image: Tesla

— By on September 23, 2013, 7:10 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure