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Flow characteristics of a Hyperloop vehicle

Academic lead
Carl Gilkeson (Mechanical Engineering)
David Connolly (Civil Engineering), Greg de Boer (Mechanical Engineering)
Project themes
Energy and Transport

Hyperloop is a newly proposed mode of transportation where vehicles move within a tube held at vacuum-type conditions at speeds of up to 1200km/h.  Currently, the most well-known embodiment of Hyperloop is that proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, and presents a step-change in transport engineering, allowing people to move vast distances in short periods of time.  However, the infancy of the technology means there are many unknowns regarding the aerodynamic behaviour of Hyperloop vehicles confined within low-pressure environments.  These must be resolved before a fully-functioning prototype is tested with passengers.  To investigate this, this project will develop a CFD model of Hyperloop vehicles moving inside tubes.  The model will be used to investigate the effect of vehicle nose shape, tube gaseous density, the piston effect and the geometry of the internal tube.  Using simulation results, a proof-of-concept Hyperloop design will be developed that minimises drag, thus optimising the relationship between vehicle speed and energy consumption.  Considering the global reach of this research, the project may require presenting at international conferences.