Could a transatlantic hyperloop trip become an alternative to flying?

As the world population continues to grow, and specifically in coastal areas, there is a related increase in the demand for mobility. Intercontinental flights are currently one of the main ways to connect, but we need a more sustainable mobility solution for the future. How about a floating hyperloop?

Within the Blue Growth research project we are focusing on the application of a floating hyperloop concept to dramatically reduce emissions related to long distance mobility. Hyperloops are expected to be a good alternative for high velocity passenger (and cargo) transport and are mainly being developed as a land-based solution.

The transatlantic hyperloop is designed as a mid-water floating tunnel to avoid hydrodynamic loads from waves and geotechnical events like earthquakes. With a diameter of 11 m, the tunnel tube has a two-way connection to transport a hyperloop in both directions. Made from steel, the tube will be neutrally buoyant when deployed in combination with a catenary mooring system. The bundled mooring lines are spaced about each kilometre along the tunnel to reduce the number of mooring lines and therefore, installation costs.

In September 2019 conceptual tests on a mid-water floating tunnel were carried out to examine the effect of the submersion depth, structural and geometrical design of a hyperloop tunnel and its mooring system. A tunnel section was tested in waves at two different submersion depths, and motions, accelerations and line forces were measured. The effects of current loads on the tunnel are not included in the scope of these preliminary tests. Results showed that a tunnel length of 15 km was sufficient to model the response of a full-length tunnel of about 5,500 km. The model tests found that the tunnel is subject to vertical drift forces, which could result in unstable floating equilibriums, though these decrease substantially for deeper submersion depths like 100 m.

These observations in the basin and numerical calculations on a mid-water floating tunnel show that further work has to be done on modelling these tunnels in time-domain solvers and that redesigns could improve the hydrodynamic stability of a mid-water floating tunnel. Who wants to collaborate with us to bring this pioneering concept one step closer to reality? Anyone keen to look beyond the limitations of traditional long distance travel should get in touch.