EuroTube is conducting a study with the support of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport (BAV) to assess the potential of hyperloop from both a technological and an ecological point of view, and compare a life-cycle view of the energy demand and emissions of such a system with short-haul airplanes and high-speed rail.
Compared to an airplane, the emissions are orders of magnitude lower, with the same speed, but central access and shorter waiting times. Hyperloop achieves this efficiency by overcoming the limitations of friction and drag prevalent in rail and airplanes by magnetically levitating its passenger or freight vehicle above the rail in a partial-vacuum tube.
The life-cycle analysis takes into account the non-negligible contribution of emissions during the construction of the necessary infrastructure. The big advantage over air travel, however, is that emissions during operation are very low. With increasing capacity in the future, this will help enormously to balance out the emissions from construction.
“Hyperloop could on the one side increase transport capacity by providing a fast lane for long-distance mobility, thus freeing up capacity on conventional rail for more regional connectivity; on the other it could shift a significant part of the emission-intensive short-haul flights to a more sustainable, all-electric ground-based transport solution – airplane speeds with the same convenience as a train“, says Dr Giacomo Pareschi, Sustainable Transport Engineer at the EuroTube Foundation.
Even considering synthetic fuels, an airplane still uses about five times more energy due to the energy-intensive process of kerosene synthesis. In all cases, the absolute CO2 emissions depend heavily on the electricity mix in the respective country.
The results are part of the study “Life-Cycle Analysis with Focus on Energy Consumption and Environmental Impact of a Vacuum Transport Infrastructure”, which was conducted as part of the BAV-supported project “Potential Analysis for Vacuum Transport Technologies in the Public Transport Infrastructure of Switzerland” in cooperation with researchers from the Haute école spécialisée de Suisse occidentale (HES-SO), and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). The final results are expected to be published by the coming Summer.
A summary of the interim report is available for download through the website of the BAV. (Federal Office of Transport BAV Project Results (admin.ch))