The city of Columbus, Ohio started a feasibility study to install a hyperloop route connecting Chicago and Cleveland, earlier this year. Ohio isn’t the only city to have a hyperloop route, however. Meredith Bauer, Ensia contributor, has claimed that the entire U.S is considering 15 different hyperloop routes. Some of the routes are Las Vegas to Reno, Denver to Boulder, and Portland to Seattle.
It’s estimated that these hyperloops will be available by 2020. Because companies are thinking of implementing this technology more and more each day, it’s only reasonable to think of its impact on the environment. The possible problems could be the carbon footprint used to build the hyperloops and the effect the infrastructure will have on the ecosystem.
Several companies are fine-tuning routes that are built above the ground using a hollow tube which is dangling in the air on concrete pillars. In order to decrease its effect on the ecosystem, they are trying to find a way to build elevated tracks in highway medians next to already existing railroad tracks.
On the flip side, some routes need to be underground because of some cities’ current infrastructure and lack of space. The Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, along with the researchers, are one of those who are examining the effect tunneling would have on aquifers and if it’s possible for chemicals from the construction to leach into the ground and infect the waters.
Steve Carden, transport innovation lead at PA Consulting Group, explained that the hyperloop’s vacuum environment should actually provide to energy efficiency of this new technology. “Hyperloop has the potential to be a game changer. Imagine traveling at the speed of a jet plane, with the grid distribution efficiency of a train, and almost no aerodynamic drag,” he said.
The hyperloop’s goal is to be a better alternative to plane transportation. During the year of 2017 only, international flights produced 946 million tons of carbon dioxide. According to Virgin Hyperloop One, if every passenger flight, ranging 310-930 miles, was swapped with hyperloop route, the emissions of fossil fuels would drop by 58%.
More details are about to come in days ahead while we wait for the hyperloops route to eventually become reality.