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Europe’s first Hyperloop test track unveiled

Picture of the test facility made by Roderik van Nispen

Europe’s first tube to test new Hyperloop technology has been unveiled in Delft in the Netherlands by partners Hardt and contractor Bam.

The hyperloop’s systems will be tested at low speed in a vacuum inside the 30m long, 3.2m in diameter tube. Tests will cover the safety, propulsion, gliding and stabilisation of the hyperloop vehicle.

Hardt was founded by a number of winners from a competition held earlier this year by billionaire and hyperloop entrepreneur Elon Musk.

The test facility on the site of TU Delft [Delft University] campus will also look into the social integration and acceptance of the new technology which uses an electric motor to accelerate and decelerate a levitated pod through a low pressure tube with speeds up to 1,200km/h.

The steel tube has been designed to be as cost efficient as possible. Rings around its circumference add strength and stop it from buckling, allowing the thickness of the tube to be kept to a minimum. Hardt said because the system will eventually be hundreds of kilometres long, the cost of the tube would be a major factor in making the infrastructure cost effective.

Internally, it will now be fitted with a track which will be suspended from the roof of the tube. This will be used to test the levitation, propulsion, stabilisation and braking of the hyperloop technology. Monitoring equipment will be installed to measure, among other things, the tube’s internal temperature.

The team is also working on building the parts required for the first vacuum tests.

“The track and vehicle are a highly integrated system,” said a Hardt spokeswoman. “The track internals are now entering the final design stages.”

The exterior of the tube is planned to be finished next month after which work on the internal fit out will start. Testing of the system is planned for the end of the year depending on manufacturing and delivery times.

The new company said after completing the low-speed tests, it would aim to build a high speed test facility to investigate the technology involved in cornering and the changing of lanes within the vacuum tube at top speed.

“When all the techniques have been proven, the building of a route between two cities to transport both people and goods can begin,” said the spokeswoman.

Bam director infrastructure Nederland Marinus Schimmel said: “We are connecting for the future. We are constantly looking for new and smart ways of travelling in order to make an important contribution to improving our transportation systems and creating a more sustainable society.

“We are on the verge of a unique, completely new technology which will allow us to make much more efficient use of our means of transport and our transport infrastructure.”

Hardt chief executive Tim Houter said: “We are creating a world where distance no longer matters. One where you will have the freedom to live and work wherever you want to.”

Partner Hyperloop One is currently building a 500m long, 3.3m diameter tube test track ‘DevLoop’ in the Nevada desert in America. It announced in January this year that full scale testing was only a ‘matter of months’ away.

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