Evacuated Tube Transport
What if you could travel from New York to Los Angeles in just 45 minutes? Or leave from Washington DC and be in Beijing in two hours? If it sounds impossible now, it may not be in the near future. The brainchild of Daryl Oster, the revolutionary transport system called Evacuated Tube Transport may make it possible to commute daily across the country. Though still in the planning and prototype stage, the world may be getting smaller sooner than we think.
What it is -
Touted as the future "space travel on earth", the ETT will combine the genius of the maglev trains (magnetic levitation) already being used in Asia and Europe with travelling through an airless environment. Magnetic levitation borrows from basic grade school physics class - that opposite magnetic poles attract and like poles repel. Using this simple theory, tracks for the maglev trains have a magnetic field built in. By placing attractive forces in them, the train is levitated and pulled forward by linear propulsion. Maglev trains lack an engine and so are environmentally-friendly. While a conventional train will never top 80 mph, a maglev train can reach speeds of up to 300 mph. Think about how much faster they could go without all that air slowing them down.
The goal of the ETT is to propel levitated capsules down airless guider tubes. Without air, a vacuum is created. This means there is virtually no resistance and once the train gets up to speed it can coast along. The ETT will be able to attain amazing speed and it is estimated that speed may reach an impressive 4000 mph. Get ready to order your Chinese food from China.
The Capsules -
What will travelling on the ETT be like? Each capsule will be about the size of a car and weigh approximately 400 lbs. It will be able to carry a payload of 800 lbs. Capsules will hold six passengers at a time and the seats will be slightly reclined. Because they will be riding along an invisible magnetic cushion, travellers will have a quiet and comfortable ride. At stations, airlocks are provided to allow transfer of capsules without admitting air. What about safety? ET3, the company behind this transport innovation, assures us that the ETT is perfectly safe. Passengers will have no problem breathing because life-support apparatus used for years in submarines and space stations will be in place. Should an emergency occur, escape hatches are placed every mile or so along the tube. ET3 believes that both the system and security will be better than present day aircraft.
The Obstacles -
Of course a project of this magnitude will have its problems. Certainly both the railroad and airline industries will have objections since the ETT system will offer more affordable transportation, as little as a penny a mile. Oil companies may not be happy either though ET3 feels that the large amounts of plastics required for construction of the system will balance it out. Infrastructure will be a challenge though it is suggested that initially the system would utilize already established railroad lines. Governments will need to get involved and China has already taken the first step. They are building transport tubes now and hope to have them up and running in three years.
Daryl Oster and his team are selling licenses for the rights to build the tubes and tracks. The license fee is 100 U.S. dollars. They are also trying to raise both private and public funding. China has purchased the most licenses though at least five other countries are involved. Plans are underway to broaden the public's knowledge about ETT by raising money to make a documentary about it.
The Evacuated Tube Transport would produce zero emissions even while travelling at incredibly high speeds. It would reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels. The ETT is quiet. Though the whole concept seems futuristic, the modern vactrain was introduced almost 100 years ago by American engineer Robert Goddard who drew up specs while attending Clark University. His innovative idea in 1910 may become a reality soon.
Daryl Oster -
Daryl Oster is a big believer in efficiency. He first conceived of the idea of the Evacuated Tube Transport in the mid 1980s. He spent the next decade refining it. In 1999, Mr. Oster received the first ETT patent and went on to form and become the CEO of et3.com,Inc. with the goal of creating a sustainable global transportation system. The ETT patent documents were filed in 83 countries. Dr. Zhang Yaoping, a transportation engineer in China, contacted Oster when he came across the et3.com, Inc. website. Oster and his wife travelled to China to meet with Yaoping in 2002. Together they established an exchange between China's top technological universities and government agencies resulting in several research programs involving ETT and more than a dozen licensees have been sold in China. Daryl Oster studied mechanical engineering at Walla Walla College in Washington and has worked in the fields of agriculture, aeronautical and mechanical design.
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Update - Though the company is based in Colorado, USA, it seems China will still be taking the lead in utilizing the Evacuated Tube Transport. They have built a three mile test system which has been met with great enthusiasm though at lesser speeds to start. There is chatter that a rail is almost ready in the United States as well.