The credibility of the Hyperloop just got a gigantic boost. A major publicly traded infrastructure design, engineering and construction company has joined the Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) project to build a test track for the transport solution in Quay Valley, California.
Aecom (NYSE: ACM), which reported venues of $15.8 billion on June 30, 2015, will help design and construct a five-mile Hyperloop demonstration project in California’s Central Valley, Wired reported. In exchange for its involvement in the effort, Aecom will receive stock options in HTT.
Aecom is a Fortune 500 company that has been involved in some major transportation projects. Those projects include Crossrail a new system of rail tunnels running under the entire city of London and the Alameda Corridor freight railroad in Los Angeles.
A company like Aecom wouldn’t be involved in Hyperloop unless its executives thought the technology was viable and there was a market for the product. It is obvious that Aecom’s executives think Hyperloop will get built, and they want to get some of the contracts for building it.
Swiss Company Joins Hyperloop Effort
Nor is Aecom the only publicly traded company to get involved in the HTT project. Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum, or OC Oerlikon (OTC: OERLY), a Swiss company that specializes in the manufacture of industrial vacuum pumps has joined in as well, according to Wired. Hyperloop would require the use of giant vacuum pumps in order to pull the air out of the tubes. Like Aecom, Oerlikon will get stock options in exchange for its work on the project.
Interestingly enough, at least one Oerlikon executive thinks that Hyperloop is both feasible and doable. This would not be the first time that Oerlikon helped develop a new technology; it invented and commercialized the vacuum tube.
“I don’t think the construction hurdles are significant compared to other technologies that are already out there,” Carl Brockmeyer, the company’s head of business development told Wired. “From a technical point of view, it’s not a challenge. We are used to much higher and harsher applications.”
Like Aecom, Oerlikon has some experience with major projects, such as the large hadron collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator. It’s also worked on a wide variety of industrial projects.
Energy Needs Limited for Hyperloop
The major challenges facing the engineers on the project will be energy and cost, Brockmeyer thinks. He seems to think the project can be built using existing technologies.
Around half a dozen Oerlikon employees are already working on Hyperloop. The employees’ major task will be to figure out how much power will be needed to remove all the air pressure from the Hyperloop tubes.
Interestingly enough, Brockmeyer thinks very little energy will be needed to generate the vacuum necessary to make Hyperloop work. He thinks the system could easily be powered by solar panels and windmills, which could make it extremely cost competitive.
400 Engineers Working on Hyperloop Project
In addition to the Oerlikon team, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies now has around 400 engineers working on the project on a part-time basis. The engineers are working in their spare time while keeping their day jobs at places like NASA, Boeing and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. In exchange for part-time work, the engineers will get future stock options.
This makes HTT a serious contender for building Hyperloop. It also makes me wonder if some major venture capitalists or another large company is involved in this effort. Organizations like Oerlikon and Aecom would not be involved if they did not sniff big money. Another possibility is that Elon Musk himself is still involved in the project. Some of the engineers are from his company, SpaceX.
One has to wonder if one of the railroads or a major investment bank is involved. Somebody is obviously putting up some big money project or planning to. Another possibility is that Aecom and Oerlikon think major government funding is coming for Hyperloop.
One has to wonder if HTT’s competitor, Hyperloop Technologies, will join in the Quay Valley effort or not. Hyperloop Tech is advertising for engineers and others on its web page.
A Safe Way to Invest in Hyperloop
It looks as if Hyperloop is about to become a reality whether the world is ready for it or not. There is also a safe way for average people to invest in Hyperloop; if they want, they can buy Aecom and Oerlikon stock. Since those are real companies, there will be far less risk involved than in direct investment in a speculative venture like Hyperloop.