I worked near Cheltenham for Andy Marks and his wife Brenda at Skyscan aerial photography 20 years ago. We have kept in touch, and he recently told me about an upcoming fascinating announcement by Elon Musk, the founder of so many interesting venture including PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla cars.
Elon’s next project is to forward the cause of the Hyperloop tube transport project, which will allow people to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco at 800 mph.
The thing is Andy has been working on this idea in his portacabin (shed !) for over a decade, and he has overcome many of the practical problems of a pneumatic hyperloop which the Musk project will need to face. Using his background in engineering, particularly to do with seals, Andy has figured out how to make the tubes airtight, efficient and even allowed for points or switches, which means the tubes can form a network, not just a loop.
He has designed valves in the hyperloop, allowing for short sections of the tube to be under pressure at a time. Each ‘car’ requires low pressure ahead of it and high pressure behind it, although a surprisingly small difference goes a long way.
On August 12th Elon Musk will announce what his intentions are for hyperloop transport, and he has hinted that it will be an open source project, and in some shape or form also a power storage device. The tension is building, and interest is spreading. Andy would like to be involved, so that he can contribute and his part of the solution will see the light of day, and actually be built.
Edit: there is an article about him published here