Duane, the author of this article copied gross errors from other articles. You are correct that pneumatic tube systems have scale issues (all that air drag on the entire tube is VERY energy intensive). However, if you would bother to do a little basic research you would realize that ET3 is NOT pneumatic tube transport typically used to move documents at bank drive-up windows. Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies (ET3) also has scale issues (make the tube double the optimal size and the cost increases by a factor of 8). We do NOT advocate 2' capsules. ET3 is designed to move cargo too. Car sized vehicles represent the best compromise of low cost, AND reasonable comfort and utility. Since all ET3 systems must be build to the same diameter to eventually network them together on a global basis, getting this diameter correct is the most important parameter. Considerable research shows the optimal capsule diameter to be 1.3m (51") in diameter. Full sized capsule mockups prove ET3 seating is much more comfortable than typical cars, aircraft, or trains.
If you read US patent 5,950,543 you will see that all this (and much more) was anticipated back in 1999 (and there are more than 20 more patents in the ET3 IP pool, with several more to file before US patent law transitions to "first to file" in March 2013).
You are correct that underground is at least three times the cost of above ground ET3 infrastructure. However, with ET3 we have much less dirt or rock to remove than with HSR or freeway tunnels. (a 4m bore to accommodate two 1.5m tubes and a service walkway). Over 95% of the ET3 network will be above ground and operate at 200 to 600mph.
The car sized capsules only weigh 400lb empty, yet carry the same 800lb payload as the typical car.
It takes about 2kWh to accelerate a 1200lb ET3 capsule to 350mph, or about 250kWh to accelerate to 4k mph (of course about 90% of the acceleration energy can be recovered as the capsule slows down at the destination).
For the record, we do NOT advocate Atlantic crossing. Over 95% of ET3 routes will be above ground, and can be built for lerss than 1/10th the cost of elevated high speed rail (HSR), or 1/4th the cost of a 4-lane freeway. One reason is automated production of tubes, and ET3 uses less than 1/35th as much material to support 400lb capsules (with 800lb payload) than to support 100 ton locomotives, or 40ton trucks bumper-to-bumper across 4 lanes of freeway bridge.
The e-tubes (tm) must only resist one atm of pressure. FYI, 13mm thick Ductal (tm) UHS concrete has 9 times more strength than necessary, and is not porous as is normal concrete. While crossing oceans is possible using SFT (submerged floating tunnel) tech. we do not advocate it for initial ET3 routes.
How many road or train tunnels (or ships) have "automatic terrorist detection and annihilation"? Since ET3 capsule occupants are disbursed over at least 35 times more distance than train or 747 passengers, the risk of terror is less (we prefer to focus ET3 safety measures on what kills 99% of people in transportation -- failure to control the vehicle, and failure to control conditions of travel).
1&2) If you read the fist patent (of over 20 in our IP pool) US 5,590,543, you will learn that the high speed ET3 routes must be actively aligned with redundant systems. When underground (or under water) the 2 tubes of 1.5m dia. will be in a 4m dia. tunnel. This is less than 1/15th a much rock to remove as a HSR tunnel.
3) The capsules are about 150 cubic feet of capacity (the largest station wagon has a capacity of 137 ft^3). Just as with cars operating on a freeway, restrooms for ET3 are outside the vehicles. The "off ramps" (like a freeway) are available at 15min. intervals. If you can't hold your water more than 15min, wear a diaper! (or pay ten times more to take a train or jet).
Sylvie Barak did not contact ET3 (tm) for this article. This article repeats many gross errors from other articles about by "journalists" that also failed to contact us. Some key points of error are:
* ET3 is NOT a train (and hence not a "vactrain").
* We do NOT advocate ET3 crossing the Atlantic. NOTE: the Bering Strait is less than 90 miles of ocean to cross, and is less than 200' deep, tunneling underground under water (like the "Chunnel").
* We are NOT focused on "getting more capacity in the capsules". Cars have won the global transportation market, the capsules are sized to carry 4 to 6 passengers (or one to three euro-pallets of cargo) like a typical car. The capacity of ET3 at 350mph is over 10 capsules per second (able to move more passengers per hour than a 40 lane freeway).
* Over 95% of the ET3 network will be at speeds of 200 to 600 mph, and above ground.
* We were not asked for permission to use our copyrighted artwork in this poorly researched article.
* The ET3 consortium is comprised by over 200 experts, companies, and institutions in 16 countries.
Some very serious problems appear to me. Assuming the problems of residual atmospheric friction 'could' be overcome (i.e.-there is no perfect vacuum) and all the rest of the 'construction' mechanics could be accomplished (not such a simple assumption):
1. The lateral forces due to any very small misalignment would render the ride highly uncomfortable (airsickness bags?).
2. Maintaining alignment in the face of geological motions over that path length render a "bored" tunnel approach highly impractical and any other 'tube' maintenance very expensive even if achievable.
3. Where is the rest room for those riding in such a small and claustrophobic vehicle? (Duh!)
- Science fiction? Yes!
- Realizable? No.
Yes, and it takes about 100 miles to reach 4,000 mph at 1g. So the majority of the time is indeed just coasting. The energy requirements, especially considering regen braking, is really superb. I love this idea. Of course, drilling the hole will be spendy.