A trip between Seoul to Busan in less than 30 minutes could be a reality, thanks to ‘U-Loop’, the near-supersonic train—similar to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop—designed by a team of researchers at UNIST. Powered by magnetic attraction, the U-Loop capsule would move at nearly 1,000 km/h. A prototype of this new transport capsule was displayed and tested at the 7th International Public Transportation Forum.
Professor Jaeseon Lee’s team in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering has successfully deployed the key concepts of Elon Musk’s superfast Hyperloop transit system, such as massive vacuum tube, magnetic levitation, and linear electric motor, in a small-scale demonstration environment. It is still in the prototype stage, but the research team has successfully demonstrated its potentials at the exhibition.
The new prototype model maintains the vacuum in the tube at the actual driving condition of 1/1000 atmospheric pressure in order to reduce the air resistance. In addition, permanent magnets are used for magnetic levitation and for propulsion, linear induction motors are used instead of general rotating motors. Models that have been produced so far will be used for promoting the hyperloop technology and will continue to carry out research and development to improve its performance.
UNIST announced it was developing U-Loop at the 1st International Symposium on Hyperloop, held at UNIST in July, 2016. For that purpose, UNIST has put 11 faculty members from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Department of Design and Human Engineering in a research project to secure original technology.
The goal was to develop the core hyperloop technology through the fusion of mechanical engineering, electricity, communication, and design. This research is currently underway in cooperation with Korea Railroad Research Institute and Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials.
The team anticipates using either superconducting magnets or regular electromagnets for the precise control of the levitation. The team expects to use linear induction motors to propel the train at a high speed.