If you pay attention to the news in any capacity, then you are likely familiar with the name Elon Musk. The billionaire entrepreneur, investor, and engineer has become a household name thanks to his ground-breaking inventions and organizations like SpaceX, Tesla Inc., and The Boring Company. Musk is also responsible for conceptualizing and supporting extended research into the high-speed transportation service dubbed the Hyperloop train. More accurately, this “train” would be a series of aluminum passenger pods inside low-pressurized steel tubes running along aluminum tracks. If, or when, according to Musk, Hyperloop becomes a reality, passengers will be able to travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco at speeds surpassing 700 miles-per-hour. That means a one-way trip would take under 30 minutes to complete. By car, the trip takes roughly 6 hours.

Maglev Technology

Originally, the Hyperloop train was predicted to use a technology called magnetic levitation, or maglev. This same electromagnetic technology is used commercially to power high-speed trains in China, Japan, and South Korea. Essentially, the trains are suspended by superconducting electromagnets, requiring a constant supply of high-voltage electricity. There are also metal coils beneath the track that act like a sort of guiding force. As the train accelerates, the magnetic field induces a current in the coils, correcting the train if it moves off its center.

Passive Maglev

A more recent application of this technology passive magnetic levitation achieves the same effect with fewer requirements on power infrastructure. In this method of operation, permanent magnets are arranged underneath the passenger pods in something called a Halbach array, which makes the magnetic field on one side of the array stronger while nearly canceling out the field on the other. Skis made of pressure- and heat-resistant alloy called Inconel are also attached to the bottom of the pods. Air is pumped through holes in the skis to provide a cushion. As a linear induction motor propels the pod forward at approximately 25 miles-per-hour, the permanent magnets create a field between the metal coils and Halbach arrays, lifting the pod into the air. An additional thrust increases speed. This method would eliminate the need for power stations along the Hyperloop track. Also, because levitation would occur through movement, it may be the safer option. Why? Because in the case of a power failure, the pods would continue to levitate until they reached minimal speeds.

When to Expect It

While some people remain skeptical and there is no projected launch date, Musk is adamant that the Hyperloop will one day be a reality. In fact, he’s built a one-mile test track in Hawthorne, California where the first successful trial has reportedly been carried out. Shervin Pishevar, the co-founder of the company Virgin Hyperloop One, recently told CNBC that a Hyperloop will be up and running by the year 2020.

Use Apex Magnets Today

Interested in building your own Halbach array? Browse through our neodymium blocks and cubes. These one-sided magnetic arrangements can be used in a variety of applications including motor design, voice coils, transportation, and data security. As always, you can fill out a contact form or call us 24 hours a day with questions and concerns about magnetic applications. The best number to reach us at is (1-304) 257-1193!