Although there are similarities to the Startram concept we looked at recently, this take on maglev-like transport is all on terra firma and, if it ever eventuates, would take passengers from New York to Beijing in just two hours. Advocates of Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) claim it is silent, cheaper than planes, trains or cars and faster than jets.
The basic plan is, well, as old as the enabling patent, US Patent 5950543, whose description is quite thorough. Issued in 1999, there remain seven years on the term of the patent, which is assigned to ET3.com, Inc., a licensing organization that hopes to head an alliance of players to fund and construct demonstration facilities.
The short version of the ETT story is as follows: put a superconducting maglev train in evacuated tubes, then accelerate using linear electric motors until the design velocity is attained. As the motors are integrated into the evacuated tubes, the conveyance capsules which travel in the tube need have no moving or electrically activated parts – passive superconductors allow the capsules to float in the tube, while eddy currents induced in conducting materials drive the capsules. Efficiency of such a system would be high, as the electric energy required to accelerate a capsule could largely be recaptured as it slows.
The most practical model system is based on car-sized passenger/cargo capsules that travel in 1.5 m (5 ft) diameter vacuum maglev tubes. The maglev tubes are permanently maintained at near vacuum conditions, and the capsules are inserted into and removed from the tubes through airlocks at stations along the route. After the capsules are accelerated to the design velocity (some 4,000 mph or 6,500 km/h), they coast for the remainder of the trip. There is no drag from traveling through air, and although small oscillations in the maglev suspension do cause a bit of inefficiency, it is a tiny fraction of the rather immense kinetic energy of an occupied capsule – which with a car of about 550 kg (1,212.5 lb) traveling at 4,000 mph is just about 244 kWh.
via Gizmag – Brian Dodsonᔥ
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