Would You Travel in a Tube?

June 10, 2013

Although the principle is not totally new as it has been used for transporting messages in vacuum tubes within buildings, ships and even small towns at the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century, it is now reinvented, improved and licensed by et3.com Inc. company. ET3 is a shortage of Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies and according to the company, what they licensed “is silent, low cost, safe, faster than jets, and is electric.”

tunnelmaglev[Image Source: ET3]

But what exactly their project consist of? A capsule with dimensions of an average car travels in a meter-and-a-half-wide tube on a maglev rail (“maglev” stands for “magnetic levitation”). Each capsule weighs 183kg and is able to hold no more than 6 people (or 367kg of cargo) and the speed achieved in the initial system is 600 km/h (370mph). The company states that the speed could be developed to 6500 km/h (4000mph) which looks hard to believe unless if they achieve it for real.

splash-about[Image Source: ET3]

Each capsule is propelled by linear electric motors and does not rely on pressure differences, unlike the first suggestion that reaches the mind. Pneumatic pumps along the tube serve to ensure that the vacuum inside is enough to keep air friction at negligible levels.

Probably the main disadvantages of ET3 is the low cargo capacity and that it requires at least two very long tubes that are not suitable for many terrains like mountains and oceans. However, the company offers an interesting option for travelling over long distances many times faster than now.