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Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Idea Gaining Ground in ET3, Testing This Year

ET3 Transport Could Be Faster and Cheaper Than High-Speed Rail
ET3 Transport Could Be Faster and Cheaper Than High-Speed Rail

Elon Musk has often stated the need for fast public transportation, which can also be clean. Buses, subways, and even trains have their limitations [don’t even ask about taxis].

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop idea is actually a conglomeration of several ideas, “the Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table,” according to him. Put another way, a combination of bullet trains and magnetic levitation in an airless environment.

Resembling the Hyperloop, ET3 is a tube from which air is evacuated. No air means no drag, so even a brick would be as aerodynamic as the Concorde. Second, the individual cars inside the tube are suspended by, and propelled by, magnetic levitation. Again, no friction, so the estimated speed can go up to 4,000mph or Mach 5.2 [the speed of sound is a measly 761mph].

The idea sounds grandiose, but ET3 already has mockups and prototypes and could test a 3-mile section of the Hyperloop-like system by the end of the year. If successful, it could pave the way for efficient and quick transportation across the US and even other continents. ET3 estimates that the system might cost a tenth the price of a dedicated high-speed rail line and a quarter the cost of a dedicated highway.

Put in perspective, California’s $70bln high-speed rail project could get passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in three hours. Be it Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, or the ET3, if one of them successfully built and operational, could do the same in just about half an hour.

[Editor’s note: this reminds me of the latest Total Recall movie, where they had this hole across the Earth and a tube carrying people back and forth]

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  1. Um, ET3 was around long before this so-called “hyperloop”. Therefore, hyperloop is an “ET3-like” system, to be chronologically accurate.

  2. Well, I just became aware that Musk has tweeted that it is not a “vac tunnel”. I read the tweet myself. That frankly surprised me, since with atmospheric friction at those speeds you can’t get the low levels of net energy expenditure he proposes after deceleration recuperates whatever is left of the energy used to accelerate the vehicular units. You would also use expensive materials to withstand the heat, some way to insulate the passengers from it, etc. it’s very problematic, so he has to have some other way to eliminate atmospheric friction. 
    It would seem that superconductivity is necessarily involved for the maglev component of the system required to minimize the otherwise inevitable rolling friction. Atmospheric friction would completely rule out his claims unless he has an alternative scheme for eliminating friction. The pneumatic principle cannot work, since that would only trade the vehicle surface area for that of the entire length of the tube walls and so enormously increase the surface area that moving air would have to create friction against. I can only imagine that he combines the maglev principle and superconductivity in a strategy that causes the air to flow around the vehicular units without contacting their surfaces. He needs to have come up with some way to make the airflow around the vehicular units to also behave like electrons in a superconductor.

  3. notice how you said a brick wouldn’t need to be like the concord?  that should have led you to the conclusion that the Hyperloop is not using a vacuum tube.  That, or the end of his tweet about the hyperloop: “not a vac tunnel, btw”.
    So you are just another “journalist” rehashing someone’s horrible article linking ET3 and Elon Musk / Hyperloop when they are clearly not.
    Take a good idea (ET3’s ETT), take out the boring 350mph for cheaper than high speed rail, add in the 4000mph theoretical speed that even ET3 would likely say is a very very long term goal, and then top that off with a little unrelated Elon Musk’s hyperloop, which we don’t have much detail on, and bam! Look, ma! I’m a journalist!!

  4. I’m pretty sure Elon’s idea involves a pressurized tube rather than an evacuated one.  The thought is that an evacuated tube presents a huge safety risk if there is breach, where as a breach in a pressurized tube just causes a slow down…

    • starkast I don’t think hyperloop will be ANY tube.  Why say concord if not talking about aerodynamics necessary for high speed in open air?  also, regarding ET3 evacuated tube: There is not a “huge” safety risk for breaches, but this isn’t the first I’ve heard this concern.  where did you hear this?

      • Honestly, I thought he was referring Concorde in reference to speed, being a supersonic passenger aircraft. Aerodynamics would be irrelevant in an evacuated tube. Another comment said Musk says /not/ a vacuum tube, so I’m not sure now.

        • bnjroo yes, Concorde may only be referencing speed, and not aerodynamics. However, he said SanFran to LA in 30 min which would be slower than sound.  This leads me to the conclusion that he is not taking aerodynamics out of the equation by ANY means whether vacuum tube or otherwise.  If he was, then his SanFran to LA time would be lower than 30 min.  So, I think aerodynamic pods–no tubes


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