Hyperloop Challenge taken up in Britain

21 January 2019


Great Britain – The British Tunnelling Society (BTS) has formed a task force to take on the Hyperloop Challenge. Hyperloop is a rapid transit concept that involves propelling pressurised capsules down reduced-pressure tubes across great distances at enormous speeds. The challenge is to demonstrate a means to reduce the cost of tunnelling by a factor of ten or more, and so make the Hyperloop concept viable.

The issuer of the challenge is Elon Musk, the now-widely-recognised entrepreneur behind Hyperloop, Tesla and SpaceX, suggested that this could be achieved through halving TBM diameter, doubling its power, using a continuous excavation and lining process, by taking benefit from investment in tunnelling research and development, and finally by economies of scale.

The British attempt at this challenge will look at the technical implications and advantages of tunnels for Hyperloop. It will also look at the key cost drivers of tunnelling and the feasibility of Musk’s proposals for cost reduction. In addition, the BTS will look at what innovations and research are in progress that may help in achieving technical feasibility and the sought-after cost reductions.

The attempt is to be partially funded by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Enabling Fund, while the research and reporting will be executed by London Bridge Associates (LBA).

A spokesperson for the effort said, “The Hyperloop Challenge project will comprise the production of a preliminary report which will be used to brief the attendees at an industry-wide workshop to be held at the ICE headquarters in London. The output from the workshop will be integrated with the preliminary research to produce the final report, for publication in autumn 2019.”

Bill Grose, project director for the BTS said, “These are challenging questions to answer, but ones that we feel require considered thought by subject matter experts. We will consult widely within and outside the tunnelling community – we already know that there is considerable enthusiasm to participate.”

Simon Morgan, LBA’s managing director added, “We are thrilled to be apart of this project and have the opportunity to bring together industry knowledge and experience to show how the tunnelling industry can take a leading part in the implementation of Hyperloop and maximise the benefits of the underground environment.”

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