While Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) shares continue to slide as more and more investors worry about the firm’s real value, we take a look at the next big idea that Elon Musk fans might be interested in. Yesterday Musk announced over Twitter that plans for the Hyperloop would be unveiled in August.
What is a Hyperloop anyway? Nobody is really sure, but we do know some things about the design from Musk’s statements in the past year. Here’s a few things the media have gotten wrong, and a few they’ve gotten right.
Tesla Motors – Not an evacuated tube
Tube transports have been the domain of science fiction for about a hundred years at this stage. Offices have used them for almost as long in order to transport memos and money from floor to floor. These are, more often than not, evacuated tubes. The Hyperloop will not be an evacuated tube.
Nature abhors a vacuum. The well worn phrase remains true, at least on planet earth. Hundreds of miles of evacuated tubing would need an amazing degree of engineering precision and it would still probably use an unsustainable amount of energy. Those problems come before the issues with something going wrong.
An evacuated tube couldn’t be as energy efficient as Musk promises. Also he tweeted pretty clearly that that’s not it.
Tesla Motors – Pneumomaglev
Musk has said that the new transportation mechanism will be a cross between a rail gun, a Concorde and an air hockey table. Months and months ago an enterprising young blogger, who must have some background in engineering, put together a decent concept of what the hyperloop is.
The Hyperloop will be powered by magnetic coils like a Maglev train. Each carriage will be in a sealed tube, and it will be sealed against the walls of the tube. As each carriage is pushed and dragged along by the electromagnetic effects, it will compress the air in front of it, pushing the carriage ahead of it.
This system is a cross between a Maglev and a pneumatic pipe. It will do away with air friction by not allowing air to move past the carriage. Friction on the side of the tube will need another solution.
Elon Musk is launching the Hyperloop in August, and engineers around the world are salivating. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) shareholders looking for somewhere to hide might find a home in those plans.