I live on the east coast of Australia, where a Hyperloop faces the challenges that we have a mountain range pretty much right up against the coast, where most people live. There's very little flat space to build on, or so I have heard or read somewhere.

Anyhow Is also read recently that the International Energy Agency released a report saying offshore wind could/should be a big part of decarbonising the power grid.

I found myself imagining a string of offshore wind towers up and down the easy coast, then I imagined a Hyperloop that used those as support columns, avoiding the difficult coastal terrain.

Would that work?

  • $\begingroup$ They use columns to support a maglev track... $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Feb 5 '20 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Engineering! This looks like a 'Novel Idea' question. Such questions tend to become moving targets and lead to discussions, neither of which are a good fit for our format. See if you can edit your question to make it specific and answerable. $\endgroup$ – Wasabi Feb 8 '20 at 1:23

Could a string of large offshore wind towers support a Hyperloop tube?

It's a well defined [tm] engineering problem well within the physical capabilities of available materials and methods, so, yes, they could.

However, the practicality of integrating the two very different systems is vanishingly small.

Offshore wind turbine towers are spaced at very large distances apart compared to the structures that would be necessary to support a practical hyperloop track. Adjusting WT tower placement so their foundations and part of their structures could be jointly utilised is conceptually feasible, but the percentage of hyperloop supports suitable for joint use would be a small percentage of the total, and the added constraints of routing and location imposed on both systems would be likely to be significant.

A hyperloop track could be used to provide support for a large number of smaller wind turbines along the while route, but the economics of wind turbines greatly favour the largest and tallest market proven* systems available.
(*There are always larger and taller systems seeking to prove themselves).

It seems likely that a "hyperloop" could be economically be built in a land based tunnel than on an above surface marine platform. Security, and mechanical stability are both significant requirements. While subterranean tunnel systems face challenges from earthquakes, this is a well known and understood (if not well predictable) phenomenon and paid response sensor systems are liable to render a tunnel system no more dangerous than a marine above surface platform.

From 'memory' - figures could be researched and added if of interest:

China operates a large network of high speed rail - mostly above ground, but still subject to derailment effects from earthquakes and other land movement. Speeds are around (from memory) 150+ kph for the Z trains and 200-250 kph for the D trains, with faster speeds in some sections. While well below hyperloop speeds the challenges are similar. I have heard of the very occasional report of Chinese rail incidents but they seem to be as rare as one would hope.

Over middle and longer distances a D train achieves trip times about half that of a car over the same general route. (I've traveled in D trains a few times).

  • $\begingroup$ The minimum spacing for wind turbines is 5 or 6 rotor diameters... $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Feb 5 '20 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ @SolarMike Placing your WTs in a single continuous line along a coast is liable to be anattractive :-) $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Feb 5 '20 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ So Middelgrunden is not valid? see 4coffshore.com/offshorewind/… $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Feb 5 '20 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ @SolarMike It appears to be valid for Middelgrunden :-). It is also rather atypical. Doing what works best is usually a good idea, and if a single row of not overly many turbines suits the economic and energy optimisation needs then it's probably valid. But looking at a large number of images of offshore wind farms indicates that most aren't like that. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Feb 5 '20 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ My comment about spacing did not mention a straight line joining all machines, but a straight line is possible between any two... $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Feb 6 '20 at 7:54

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.