Let’s travel faster than sound: supersonic trains and planes

By 13 July, 20174CARLOVERS
supersonic transport

After our ride on the self-driving car of the future and the flying car, this week at 4CarLovers we will talk about supersonic transport. More particularly, we will focus on revolutionary projects under way for a faster and faster means of transport. Can you imagine a train travelling at 1,000 km/h or a plane at 2,300 km/h? Fasten your seatbelts. We are about to take off at the speed of sound.

The first supersonic project we are going to talk about is not at all new to us. As a matter of fact, ISTOBAL has sponsored its development and its team, Hyperloop UPV. The Spanish team is made up of students from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). They were short-listed by Elon Musk’s company to participate in the international competition for the Hyperloop capsule prototype. In a transatlantic partnership with the prestigious University of Purdue (Indiana), the team has already begun building the train of the future, a prototype named Atlantic II, which will be tested in August in California.

Hyperloop is a concept devised by Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, PayPal, and Tesla. It is based on the transport of passengers and goods using pods or vacuum capsules levitating inside a tube travelling at high speeds. It has been estimated that it will be able to reach speeds of 1,000 km/h and connect Algeciras with Hamburg, for example, in just three hours, or Madrid with Paris in just one hour. In addition, it is environmentally friendly, as it is fuelled with 100% renewable energy with zero CO2 emissions.

Hyperloop technology has been conceived under the open-source concept, so Elon Musk and aerospace company SpaceX have encouraged other experts to come up with ideas and promote their development. Several companies and dozens of researcher and student teams are already working to take this revolutionary technology further.

And what about air travel? NASA and different aerospace companies are now closer to developing silent supersonic aircraft. Called XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator and nicknamed Baby Boom, this prototype aims to overcome the problems of legendary Concorde -the supersonic plane-, i.e. low profitability and a deafening engine noise. After the tragic Concorde accident in 2000 and its subsequent grounding, this means of transport has been recovered in recent years and Baby Boom has now passed the tests in NASA’s supersonic wind tunnel.

The design aims to generate 60 decibels only, a thousand times less noise than Concorde, which would allow it to fly over populated areas. It will reach over 2,300 km/h and travel from London to New York in just three and a half hours. And its promoters want to take things even further, as NASA wants it to consume and pollute less than current aircraft.

You can see how speed and environmental commitment go hand in hand in the development of supersonic means of transport which will help us travel and fly faster than sound in the near future.

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