Strangely, the super-fast high tech transportation system known as Hyperloop could fight global warming.
To explain, a Hyperloop could theoretically move thousands of passengers; or hundreds of tons of freight, at speeds of up to 760 miles an hour (MPH); 1,174.82 kilometers per hour. Furthermore, a Hyperloop runs on electricity which we can generate without burning fossil fuels.
For instance, a company they call HyperloopTT claims its Hyperloop could carry 160,000 passengers a day. Furthermore, HyperloopTT claims it Quinterro Hyperloop capsule could leave a station in 40 seconds.
How Hyperloop could Replace Aircraft
Therefore, Hyperloop could replace jet aircraft as a major transportation system.
Hyperloop could limit Climate Change and Global Warming because airlines pump staggering amounts of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). For example, the Center for Biological Diversity estimates airplanes could generate 43 gigatonnes (43 billion tons) of greenhouse gases by 2050.
Aircraft emit 11% of the C02 generated in the United States, the Center claims. Additionally, one country; the United States accounts for almost half the world’s CO2 emissions from aircraft.
I think Hyperloop lines between major cities could greatly reduce air travel and CO2 emissions. The distance between New York City and Chicago is 790 miles, for example.
A Hyperloop pod could travel between Grand Central Station and Chicago’s Loop in a little over an hour. If HyperloopTT’s claims about 760 MPH are true. Currently, the fastest Hyperloop speed is around 300 MPH.
Under these circumstances, Hyperloop could drive airlines out of business by hauling passengers from Manhattan to the Chicago Loop. I cannot imagine anybody wasting time and money traveling to the airport, if Hyperloop will take you from downtown to downtown.
Hyperloop and Air Freight
Additionally, Hyperloop could replace much of the U.S. air cargo fleet. Statista estimated the size the of US airfreight fleet at 858 planes in August 2018.
Interestingly, they use most of those planes to haul packages and letters. In fact, FedEx (NYSE: FDX) owned the largest US airfreight fleet of 681 planes in 2018.
Furthermore, Statista estimates North American air freight is growing at a rate of 5.1% a year. In particular, Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) air fleet is growing like a weed. TechCrunch reports Amazon bought 15 Boeing (NYSE: BA) 737-800 cargo aircraft in June 2019. TechCrunch estimates Amazon will have 70 air freighters flying by 2020.
Consequently, Amazon could increase greenhouse emissions, if we do not act. Hyperloop could replace all those polluting 737s; Jeff Bezos and his competitors haul packages with.
How Hyperloop Competes with Jets
Hyperloop competes with jets by creating an environment similar to the upper atmosphere on the Earth’s surface.
Flying at high-altitudes allows a Boeing 737 MAX 8 to cruise of speeds of 606.1 miles (975.4 kilometers) per hour, How Stuff Works notes. Thus, HyperloopTT’s Quinterro Hyperloop vehicle could be faster than a 737. HyperloopTT claims the Quinterro could move at speeds of 760 MPH.
HyperloopTT and its competitor, Virgin Hyperloop One, create a low air-pressure environment by pumping most of the air out of a large tube. This creates a vacuum similar to the upper atmosphere.
HyperloopTT uses a passive magnetic levitation (maglev) technology called Inductrack™ to push capsules through the tube at high speed. Maglev is the same technology that powers the world’s fastest bullet train.
The Japan Railway Company claims to have a maglev test train that moves at speeds of 603 kilometers per hour or 375 miles per hour. In addition, a maglev in Shanghai runs at speeds of 268 to 311 MPH.
Maglev vehicles use superconducting electromagnets to lift a vehicle off the track. This reduces resistance allowing trains to move at high speeds. Combining maglev with vacuum tubes could allow ground vehicles to move faster than jets.
Maglev could reduce greenhouse emissions because maglev runs on electricity. We can generate electricity with methods that produce no greenhouse gas. Windmills, solar panels, nuclear reactors, and hydroelectric dams for example.
How Hyperloop could increase Greenhouse Gases
On the other hand, Hyperloop could increase greenhouse gas emissions if they use fossil fuels to generate the electricity.
On the positive side; investors such as Warren Buffett, are spending billions to replace coal-burning power plants with cleaner energy sources such as wind farms. Business Insider; for instance, reports the Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B) owns over 2,600 wind turbines in Iowa.
On the negative side, the Donald J. Trump (R-New York) administration is doing its best to preserve coal. In particular, Trump’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is trying to increase the costs of renewable energy to promote coal use, Vox alleges.
Importantly, operators have announced 50 coal-fired power plant closings in the United States since Trump took office in 2017, the Sierra Club estimates. Additionally, they closed two giant coal plants in November 2019.
In particular, the giant Navajo Generating Station in Arizona shut down in November 2019 after its owners could find a buyer, Quartz claims. The Navajo station generated 20 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
Plus, Pennsylvania’s largest coal-fired plant the Bruce Mansfield unit closed on 7 November 2019 after its owner went bankrupt. The Mansfield plant closed two years ahead of schedule, Vox claims.
Is Hyperloop Realistic?
The cost of building a Hyperloop could be incredible. HyperloopTT’s system will be expensive because they could need to place vacuum pumps every 6.2 miles.
Thus, a Chicago to New York Hyperloop could require 127 vacuum pumps. That cost will be on top of the expense of the tube itself and the giant pylons they plan to place the tube on.
Unfortunately, nobody can estimate the cost of building a Hyperloop because they have never built a working Hyperloop system. In fact, as far as I know nobody has ever ridden in a Hyperloop pod.
Moreover, they could have to place Hyperloops in crowded urban areas; such as Chicago, in tunnels. Tunneling is expensive. In fact, Hyperloop promoter Elon Musk’s The Boring Company estimates the cost of tunneling at $1 billion a mile.
Thus, I think it will take several years to build and test a working Hyperloop under optimistic estimates. However, I estimate it will cost about $1 billion a mile to build a Hyperloop.
Stimulus by Hyperloop
Thus a Chicago to New York Hyperloop could cost $1 billion a mile or $790 billion.
Therefore, one Hyperloop line could cost more than President Trump’s proposed $750 billion 2020 military budget. However, it could still cost less than The Balance’s $989 billion estimate for actual 2020 US military spending.
Given the costs, I think only government could finance Hyperloop building. Unfortunately, I believe Hyperloop will be a tough sell to the US Congress. Republican politicians; in particular, are hostile to public works and green energy technologies.
However, Hyperloop construction could generate hundreds of thousands of “good jobs.” They will thousands of construction workers, for instance, and thousands of factory workers to build the vacuum pumps, pods, maglev systems, and tubes.
Hence, Hyperloop could be an easy sell to both Democrats and conservatives who want to create a “Republican worker’s party.” In addition, Hyperloop could boost property values and help speculators make big money. So both parties could love it.
Therefore, Hyperloop could be politically popular because it could fight climate change and create jobs. Hence, an American Hyperloop could be politically viable. However, we will an influential political figure to promote Hyperloop.
There are several ways government could pay for Hyperloop. For instance, the Federal Reserve could issue Hyperloop bonds.
One way to get people to buy Hyperloop bonds is to have those securities pay a higher interest rate say 8% or 9%. Such bonds could be popular because the interest rate on the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Bonds on was 1.88% 3 January 2020.
In the final analysis, Hyperloop could allow us to grow our economy while reducing greenhouse gases. Hence, I think Hyperloop could be in our future.