Orange County Branch Newsletter

May/June 2016

Branch News

Hyperloop Presentation

By Joe Gonzalez, P.E.

ASCE OC Branch – Article – Hyperloop

By Joe Gonzalez, P.E.


ASCE Orange County held its May lunch event at the Center Club in Costa Mesa.  We had two presentations on the Hyperloop Transportation System.  What is a Hyperloop system? It consists of POD or capsule with passengers in a partial vacuum tube on elevated on pylons.  The PODs will be able to transport passengers or cargo through the tube at a maximum speed of 760 mph.  The first presentation was from UCI students on their HyperXtite POD which designed and built a Hyperloop model.  Our second speaker represented Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HHT) and discussed the evolution of the Hyperloop system and provided an update on the first Hyperloop Transportation System which is scheduled for construction in 2016.

UCI HyperXite Pod

Juliana Andrews and Vivian Tseng from UCI are two members from the HyperXite team that were instrumental in developing the UCI HyperXite Pod.  Juliana and Vivian are part of the HyperXite that designed an innovative structure out of composite materials and conducted extensive FEA and physical tests on the Pod, in order to verify its integrity.

The UCI HyperXite Team was one on 320 teams that submitted intent to participate in Hyperloop Pod Competition.  The competition had the following requirements,

  • 1:2 scale model
  • 1-mile tube
  • Judging Categories
    • Design and Construction
    • Safety and Reliability
    • Performance in Operations
    • Performance in Flight

SpaceX selected 78 teams to a “Design Weekend” in Hawthorne, California to design and build a Pod that would be tested.  There were about 180 teams from 23 different countries at “Design Weekend”.  The number of teams was narrowed down to 30 for the final design competition.  The UCI HyperXite team was one of the top 5 teams and was the first team using air based levitation.  Even more impressive, UCI HyperXite Team was the top team in California.

For more information on the UCI HyperXite Team visit,

 Robert Delgado of Jacobs presented on the Hyperloop Transportation System being developed by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT).  Robert serves as a Hypermaster for the Quay Valley Planning Committee on behalf of HTT.  HTT is an American research company formed using a crowd collaboration approach to develop a transportation system based on the Hyperloop concept, which was envisioned by Elon Musk in 2013.

Robert noted that there only so much we can do with adding more lanes on our highway systems.  Locally, as soon as the freeways are widened the system is congested in a matter of a short time.

The Hyperloop System utilizes solar power, produces no greenhouse effects, and is efficient over 300 to 400 miles. Most bullet trains run at about 300 mph, although the latest models can zoom at 374 miles per hour.  Passenger jets cruise at 574 miles per hour.  A Hyperloop capsule, you're traveling at 760 miles per hour, which is 1 mile per hour less than the speed of sound.  It is estimated that a trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco will only take 35 minutes.

The Hyperloop concept actually started in 1870 when a pneumatic tunnel was constructed and it included a car that carried passengers for 300 feet.  The concept was further developed in 1904 by an inventor named Robert Goddard.  The car system was further developed in 1969 by the Garret Corporation for the U.S. Department of Transportation which included a 56-foot car that can travel up to 250 mph.  This brings us to 2013 with Ellen Musk’s concept.

HTT is currently in the environmental process in building a research and testing facility in Quay Valley in Kings County, CA. This facility will be a fully functioning Hyperloop system that is nearly 5 miles long running parallel to the I-5. Construction is currently slated to start in 2017.  In addition, there is a planned self-sustaining residential development being proposed in Quay Valley where the Hyperloop system will start.  The Hyperloop system is planned to continue south within the I-5 median to Los Angeles.

Quay Valley Self-Sustaining Residential Community

The Pod will include augmented windows that can provide different views, entertainment, and interactive media.

A key factor for the Hyperloop System if SAFETY.  When traveling at 760 mph in the Hyperloop System the following are the stopping scenarios,

  • STANDARD: 32 sec and 3.1 Ml(5,000 m) at 1g– Gentler E-stop
  • AGGRESSIVE: 16 sec and 1.5 Ml(2,500 m) at 2g— Preferred E-stop
  • EXTREME STOP: 6.4 sec and 0.6 Ml(1,000 m) at 5g—Extreme stop w/injury

Other safety features include,

  • Weather Immunity
  • Insulation from environmental disturbance
  • Zero Traffic Intersections
  • Hardened Envelope
  • External Traffic Resilience
  •  Reliable, Regular Travel
  •  Collision Prevention
  •  Advanced Controls
  •  Hardware & Redundant Sensing

Another significant advantage to the Hyperloop system is construction costs.  It is estimated that the cost per mile for a Hyperloop system is $200,000 per mile compared to over $1 million per mile for highway construction.

Like any new transportation technology, it has its critics.  In this case it also has many partners that support the development of this new system.  This includes Universities and corporations in the U.S. and abroad.

For more information on the progress of the Hyperloop Transportation System being developed by HTT visit the site below,!/