“Oh yeah! Look, he’s floating! How cool, how beautiful.” The Hyperloop system from the TU Delft student team attracts a lot of attention around From proud parents to those interested in the world of transport or innovation, everyone hopes to catch a glimpse of the technical edifice in motion. A seventy meter steel structure, with their ‘pod’ as it is called hanging below, a kind of capsule. Everything is under a large, long tent, which fortunately is open to the spectators. Because of course we all want that glimpse into the future.
But movement takes a while. A technical ‘challenge’, which the students explain later, causes the public to become uneasy. ,,He has to do it, right?”, a woman, mother of one of the students, wonders worriedly. ,,Right now when the jury is watching?”Start some parts again. Mobile phones ready to film everything. The thrill is to die for, but then you can see how the capsule frees itself from the rails and smoothly whizzes back and forth. Cheers and applause. The students hug each other.
Moving back and forth is an important part of showing the jury, explains Barte van der Zijden. She is a spokesperson for this project and studies at TU Delft. “Because if you’re going to use this technique, for example in transport, you also want it to be able to move back and forth.” a kind of counter pressure from the magnets. “This has made braking, which often uses a lot of fuel or power, much more sustainable.”
Later, it turns out that the jury is impressed by the students’ work: they win the Complete Pod Award, the most important of the seven awards in total. Other teams won for technology or system, among other things, but the Dutch won for the overall picture of their invention.
Hyperloop for dummies
Anyway, hyperloop, first a brief explanation about it. To the students, they have been working on this topic since September and know everything about it, but to the layman the whole concept still sounds a bit futuristic and vague. Van der Zijden: ,,Our hyperloop hangs on rails, but there is tension on these rails. We work with electric magnets, which you can use, among other things, to regulate the voltage and the activation and repulsion. By finding the right balance, the capsule will float and can move very quickly. It has been quite precise work to find the right proportions, but it works, and when this competition is over, we will share our knowledge with, among other things, other universities and the business world. Because of course we hope that people will start using this.”
Here on the Hilversum grounds, the Dutch invention reaches around sixty kilometers per hour. But with this technique, speeds of more than a thousand kilometers per hour can be achieved, explains Van der Zijden.
Is something like this suitable for transporting people? ,,Yes, as long as you build up that speed slowly, like braking. We humans cannot handle the pressure of g-forces when they change rapidly. But if you do it gradually, you’ll be fine. You don’t even notice that you are traveling so fast on a plane. You have to think of a hyperloop as a vehicle that can reach the speed of an airplane, but you have the comfort of a train.”
The Spanish students from Valencia have a huge pipe brought to Hilversum by truck. Inside is a device that will float and move through the hyperloop system. Unfortunately, due to the opaque tube, it is less visible, but just as impressive. Swiss students also built a track, but with a kind of capsule floating on it, instead of under it.
If it is up to the various students, the hyperloop system can quickly be used to transport packages and later also people. Van der Zijden: “Although it will be possible at the earliest in 2040 for packages and 2050 for people, because you have to comply with all possible rules and tests. But maybe it can be done much sooner, that would be great.” Because the system is fast and only uses electricity. If you use sustainable electricity, you have your sustainable means of transport.
The general public needs to become familiar with hyperloop, which is why the European Hyperloop Week has been organized for the second time in a row. Last year in Spain, now in Delft and Hilversum. In Hilversum, the company Voestalpine made a huge space available for this event. Delft students had been building their huge jobs since April. Hyperloop Week director Siddharth Nair hopes that if more people are introduced to hyperloop technology, it will feel less futuristic. “We all believe in this and it works, you’ve seen.”
Anyone who is curious can see even more information about the hyperloop inventions at the market this Sunday in Delft. The results of the match will also be announced this Sunday.