At the end of January 2015, a team from Delft University of Technology gained a highly creditable second place in the Hyperloop competition organised by Elon Musk, top executive of SpaceX and Tesla. Furthermore, the Delft team collected first prize for the most innovative design.
The team will soon be able to test their design for a futuristic transportation system in the final in California. TenCate Advanced Composites UK provided the team with thermoset carbon prepregs, adhesive film and Nomex® honeycomb core material.
Animation of the Delft Hyperloop
The Hyperloop is an innovative concept for a future transport and transit system with capsules (pods) in a system of air pressure tubes. The concept is the brainchild of Elon Musk, CEO and chief designer of the aerospace firm SpaceX. In 2015, this company instigated the Hyperloop Pod Competition in order to stimulate the development of a working prototype. He challenged student teams and companies throughout the world to design, build and test their own Hyperloop pod. This was grist to the mill for the team from TU Delft, one of 124 teams from 20 countries that submitted a proposal.
Permanent magnets have been chosen to allow the pod to glide in the tunnel. If these magnets, which are placed under the pod, move over a conductive base plate, the pod automatically levitates. This minimises both energy consumption and the construction costs of the track
Delft Hyperloop is working on a safe, rapid, reliable and inexpensive pod. The transport pod must reach a speed of more than 1,000 kilometres an hour and be able to carry both passengers and freight. Unlike pneumatic despatch, the transport system does not work with overpressure. The low pressure in the tubes means the air drag is so low that travelling speed can almost reach the speed of sound. Delft Hyperloop has selected a design for a carbon-fibre pod weighing only 149 kg, with an aerodynamic shape and electrodynamic suspension.
An impression of the interior
Tim Houter captains the Delft team. In Texas, he had the opportunity to exchange ideas with Elon Musk. ‘We brainstormed on our approach, the realisation of the Hyperloop, whether it should be an underground or overground system … and I also explained the design and its scalability.’
At the beginning of February, back in the Netherlands, the team started building the prototype for the final. Now it’s a question of producing and assembling the components. No easy task: each component is custom-made and will have to be turned and milled, just like the moulds. ‘Afterwards, we will make a large-scale test model, with rotating discs to simulate the speed of the test track.’
The team behind Delft Hyperloop
Tim Houter describes himself and the other team members as ‘engineers with a passion for technology in general and for mobility in particular’ − with environmental friendliness as a guideline. He says that the transport sector is one of the biggest consumers of energy in the world. ‘Mobility has always been a complex issue. It is high time for innovation. After the boat, car, train and aeroplane, the Hyperloop is the new form of transport.’
A number of companies have now committed themselves as partners to the team. One of these is TenCate Advanced Composites UK (Langley Mill). For the Formula 1 market, the company produces epoxy resin systems for impact structures (reinforcement against impact) and for application in the suspension, brake lines, gearboxes, bedplates and monocoque. The plant is an important material supplier for the team from Delft, providing it with thermoset carbon prepregs (fabric and UD tape), adhesive film, and a Nomex® honeycomb core for the pod floor.
‘Through utilising the materials from TenCate Advanced Composites, we are capable of creating environmentally friendly transportation for the future!’
The competition weekend takes place 27-29 January 2017, near the headquarters of SpaceX in Hawthorne (California).