Princeton University Library Catalog

The Hyperloop: A Top-Down Systems Engineering Evaluation of the Technical and Economic Feasibility

Hallin, Brooks [Browse]
Senior thesis
Nosenchuck, Daniel [Browse]
Hultmark, Marcus [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering [Browse]
Class year:
160 pages
Summary note:
Elon Musk captured the world’s attention in August 2013 when he released a high-level alpha design for a fifth mode of transportation called the Hyperloop—a reduced-pressure tube that contains pressurized capsules driven within the tube by a number of linear electric motors. His proposal was motivated by the proposed high speed rail system between Los Angeles and San Francisco that would cost $68.4 billion and have a total trip time of 2 hours and 38 minutes, providing limited transportation improvements. The alpha design outlines a passenger system between the same two cities that could be built for only $6 billion and have a faster travel time of only 35 minutes, offering significant advancements. While this alpha document provided a complete overview with clear goals for the system, more thorough engineering analysis was required to assess its technical viability as well as its economical reality. Each subsystem was broken down into its fundamental parameters and governing physical principles. These were then analyzed to evaluate their effect on both their corresponding subsystem and the overall Hyperloop performance. Several modifications were suggested to make the system feasible. Issues downplayed by the alpha document were brought to attention and their impacts were discussed. Economics, politics, and other human factors were also considered to complement the engineering analysis to gain a top-level perspective on this new mode of transportation. From the analysis it was determined that the Hyperloop could make the journey in 36.35 minutes with a revised capital expenditure of $16.84 billion. The Hyperloop would be recommended as an alternative to the high speed rail and has the potential to revolutionize transportation across the world.