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Vacuum Tube Transport System?

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posted on Feb, 15 2005 @ 01:11 PM
As a kid I saw a vintage mid-60's movie (anyone know the title?) where military scientists had to be whisked away quickly cross-country to a remote lab. The transporation they used was a supersonic, underground vacuum tube 'train'. Ever since then I have often pondered if this were feasible or maybe even already in existence for the government/military.

From what I've gathered from years of technology publications and documentaries related to Mag-Lev transportation, I can see the how the capability certainly exists.

What If?
Let's assume you have a continous underground tube running from Los Angeles to New York that can maintain a near-perfect vacuum (if I remember, space is the only perfect vacuum).
Through the length of the tube, localized sections of the inner wall are energized for magnetic polarization to provide levitation and momentum to the 'tube vehicle' as it makes it way through the tube.
At the origination point, the 'tube vehicle' would be loaded with its cargo or passengers. The loading platform would then move the vehicle into the 'Breach' of the tube through an airlock onto 'launch brackets' to provide initial support until Vacuum Pressure and Mag Lev is initiated.
Once the launch 'atmosphere' is reached, the sections of polarized cells of the tube wall begin to fire in sequence to initiate forward momentum. Each successive section of cells begin to fire in faster and faster sequences until the desired speed is reached.
For human passengers, the momentum would begin at a slow G-rate for comfort and physiological concerns. For inanimate and non-volatile cargo, less concern for G-rate load would be required.
Theoretically, since the vehicle runs in a near-vacuum using true mag lev (no physical contact between vehicle and tube), there should be little or no drag impact on the vehicle, and minimal vibration within the vehicle. Of course this should work out great if the tube were perfectly straight. To counteract some the G-Forces encountered by occupants or payload when encountering curves or slopes, the occupied inner-compartment of the vehicle would have its own multi-axial suspension to the outershell of the vehicle allowing for natural, centrifugal, adjustment of pitch and yaw - like a swiveling boat cup-holder. As the vehicle approaches its destination, polarized cells of the tube wall begin firing short 'bursts' of opposing polarization forward of the vehicle while propelling polarization sequences are idled.

Ok time for the wake up and smell the real world. This concept works out on paper but there are obvious obstacles:
1. Construction Cost - just for building a tube this size at this length (forget about Mag Lev or Vacuum) would certainly be in the Billions.

2. Energy - the power infrastructure required to engergize the Mag Lev cells and provide Vacuum Pressure would be at least as expensive as the tube itself. It would be highly inefficient, if not impossible, to supply vacuum pressure and energy to polarization cells from only the ends of the tube. Several auxillary installations would be required along the line to provide these necessary 'ingredients'.

3. Automation - certainly the technology to rapidly sequence Mag Lev polarization is already in use in some European and Japanese train systems. Running one vehicle through the tube at a time to only one destination shouldn't be a huge hassle but adding workload for 'branch' tubes to other destinations for multiple vehicles would be challenging. Denver's new Airport has just recently perfected their automated baggage system using similar 'switching' logic after nearly 10 years of troubleshooting.

4. Real Estate - where's the land going to come from to run the line? I have often wondered for years why the medians of Interstates were never used for either rail or infrastructure purposes. Why not put the tube under the median of an existing Interstate system wherever possible?

5. Safety - Ralph Nader would have a field day on this one (no offense to you Green Party members). Certainly for any viable passenger transit paradigm to exist within this concept, extraordinary safety precautions would have to be in place to slow and rest the vehicle in case of power failure or loss of vacuum pressure along the tube. While not impossible, this in itself would require hundreds of millions of dollars just in the R&D.

6. Consumer Cost - Certainly the initial passenger/payload costs would be extremely high to recover the R&D and Construction Costs. However, in its infancy, there would be a specialty market most likely in the form of the "gotta get there" crowd. Sort of a subterranean Concorde.

I have plenty more specific considerations on this concept that include, muliple vehicles, multiple-interconnected tubes, traffic control, etc but this post has already run on too long.

Please give me your feedback on whether my science behind my concept is even accurate. I'm basing everything on differeing sources of information that I'm melding together.



posted on Feb, 15 2005 @ 08:12 PM
That sounds like a very good idea, I'm sure that if some megacorporations merged into one giant Hypercorporation and it thought it could make good money from it, they would build it, though it would probably only go between major cities, maybe theyd make it an international route, and stop in the capital city of every major country, maybe more than one city for the North American continent.

Could'nt you just integrate a slow increase rocket engine into the vehicle itself for speed? I would think it would diffuse some of the power necessities.

posted on Feb, 16 2005 @ 03:01 AM
I can see a few reasons why it would not be built.
1 It would not be any faster than taking a plane, and much more restricted, only going from point A to point B.
2 The reason for the vacuum is to reduce air resistance, but the energy reqiured to produce the vacuum would be much greater than that needed to overcome the air resistance conventionally
3 Iori's rocket engine is a
as the exaust fumes would destroy the vacuum.

Nice idea, though - a shame its not practical.

The Farseer

posted on Feb, 16 2005 @ 08:03 PM

Iori's rocket engine is a
as the exaust fumes would destroy the vacuum.

#ake, I cant believe I forgot it was suppose to be a vaccuum, I was thinking just MagRail.

It would not be any faster than taking a plane

If it was going at supersonic speeds it would be faster than nearly all commercial planes.

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 09:58 AM
farseer, planes go from point a to point b. and 3500-4000mph is about 5 times faster than your average plane once it gets going.

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 10:26 AM
reply to post by Wild_Eyed_Southern_Boy

Not a bad idea Wild. I first envision an interstate system where we will lock onto to the highway via a magnetic energy system. We would lock in our destination, pay a small fee and zoooom off we go. You could snooze, read or what ever you desired. You would have a small device in your auto to signal the system when you needed to get off the highway for a pit stop.

The device also would be programed to take you to your final destination and sound an alarm when you were a few minutes away from your intended location.

Someone would invent an a/c system that would allow you to keep your auto turned off. Probably a solar system that could power the a/c and other fun gadgets you have with you.

No fuel would be needed. The small fee you would pay would be much lower than fuel cost and no pollution.

The vacuum system the banks use to transport paper and cash from their drive in banking stalls is really a neat trick too. I have a friend that is a teller and I sent a mouse through the system once and she sent it back to me. Surprisingly the mouse wasn't even stunned.

[edit on 20-6-2008 by dizziedame]

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 10:48 AM
there was a thread already about this using a vaccumed out subway and running mag lev trains

theres already a patent on this

it would definetly work and you could reach extremely high speeds but its just not practical

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 10:50 AM
I could see the military using something like this for transporting top secret weaponry or something of that nature...about the only somewhat practical application that i can come up with offhand.
I hate flying so I wish that there was a system in place

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 11:00 AM
i'm want mag-lev meaning there's no contact between the "pod" and the tube, yet you want it to be force through using a "vacuum"? for that to work you would have to let air in behind the vehicle. the vehicle would be moved due to the air trying to fill up the empty space. but if the pod had gaps between itself and the tube, then the air is just going to try to flow around the pod. if it does manage to move the vehicle it will be inefficient at best. you would be better off forgoing "mag-lev", keep contact with the tube surface and just put it on recessed rollers or use low-friction surfaces/lubrication. the time and energy cost to empty the tube of air between voyages would be another consideration. it's a neat idea, but it seems like it would be pretty inefficient.

[edit on 20-6-2008 by an0maly33]

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 11:04 AM
Hm..interesting concept but to me it seems a little over complicated.

The person who came to mind when I sarted reading this is the very capable Mr Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The words Atmospheric Railway seemed applicable.

An atmospheric railway is a railway that uses air pressure to provide power for propulsion. A pneumatic tube is laid between the rails, with a piston running in it suspended from the train through a sealable slot in the top of the tube. By means of stationary pumping engines along the route, air is exhausted from the tube leaving a vacuum in advance of the piston, and there is an arrangement for admitting air to the tube behind the piston so that atmospheric pressure propels it (and the train to which it is attached) forward

We are talking 1843 here, a little more detail.

Ok, so it is not supersonic but it was a long time ago.

If we use a passenger capsule in a sealed tube which has a reasonably airtight seal between tube and capsule perhaps even maglev it and then reduce the air pressure in front and inrease the pressure behind then it will move forward at a speed dependent on the level of vacuum thus negating the need for electro magnetic propulsion and only requiring pumping stations to vacate air from the tube system.

I would think it would be cheaper to implement but I am not sure what the speed limitation would be.

On the other hand I could just be dreaming

edit to add

Oh well there seems to be existing patents on this, not that I was thinking of applying for one but it just goes to show that nothing is new under the sun

[edit on 20-6-2008 by sherpa]

posted on Feb, 17 2010 @ 09:19 PM
This is fact. I know of an entrance in California. I am currently searching North West Washington for another entrance.

posted on Feb, 17 2010 @ 09:47 PM
Far too expensive to build and run to ever be practical.

A much better solution is the high speed above ground train.

The Chinese have just built and opened 250+ MPH bullet train, faster even than the super fast trains in Europe and Japan.

The design speed of this thing is 300 MPH.

For inter city travel up to a few hundred miles, it is much faster and cheaper for commuters than even air travel.

posted on Feb, 17 2010 @ 09:58 PM
actally it isnt that inefficent and it is quite cost effective in the long run. Getting the vaccuum in the tube you will only need to do once. At each station you will need an airlock, what this does is to keep the vaccum on one side whilst passengers get on and off on the other. The train then moves into the airlock as it does a barrier door will shut behind it the air sucked out and then the other barrier door leading into the vaccuum tube will then open.
Using maglev tech you can build it so only the tracks beneath the train are powered propelling the train along it. This will save lots of energy and because there is no wind resistence the energy costs will drop. True it will be expensive using todays polices but if we could get rid of the monetary system then all it comes down to then is the will to do it as you will have the resources and manpower to do it.

posted on Feb, 17 2010 @ 10:15 PM
The idea that when you have pumped a vacuum, it will last forever, simply is not true. Most materials gas a bit under vacuum, and eliminating all leaks to the required degree over long distances would be far too expensive.

You would have to run some very powerful vacuum pumps continuously, and that too is expensive. Something like helium gas at atmospheric pressure might work.

But you would be just as dead, if your train ever developed an air leak.

posted on Feb, 18 2010 @ 02:24 AM
Why do you need a "perfect" vacuum?

There is no such animal, not even in space.

Greatly reduced pressure would greatly reduce air resistance and there would be a point where the consumption of more energy to achieve a vacuum would offset the gains made by reduced friction.

Same goes for levitation.

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