HYDERABAD: Bibop Gresta, the chairperson and co-founder of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), the silicon valley-based start-up at the forefront of bringing India’s first hyperloop technology based passenger and freight train, revealed his company’s plans with Express.
Q) So how did Hyperloop TT come about?
It was in 2013, shortly after Elon Musk of Tesla published a white paper on the Hyperloop concept online for free for anyone interested to take it forward. Dirk Ahlborn pitched to me the idea. I was skeptical at first but after reading a document complied by 100 scientists and engineers, I got hooked into the project.
Q) You had said earlier that the high speed bullet train India hopes to build is not profitable. Why?
This is because of the proposed levitation system that they have. Especially high speed rail, you need to bring it to super conductivity and create a electrified track for miles and this brings the consumption of energy and so the business of the rail is lose-lose.
Q) Hyperloop TT is making its debut in UAE by building a track between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. What brought you to India?
The amount of people we will transport between Al-Ain and Abu Dhabi in a year is 700,000. The same number of people can be transported in a day in India. I had met PM Modi and Union Transport Minister Nithin Gadkari. This project will be a Public Private Partnership model.
Q) India has active seismic activity. How will a depressurized tube running for miles respond to an earthquake?
There are pylons that we are designing using a special mesh. We will be using graphene concrete that can reach 3,000 psi resistance that can withstand earthquakes of 9.2 ricthe scale along with seismic isolators. It’s cheaper if we 3D print the pylons. By using robots we can construct 100 kilometres in a year. The construction can be speeded up using more robots. The technology is from WinSun a China based 3D print technology company.
Q) How costly is the project going to be?
We need to do a feasibility study but the cost of an average hyperloop would range between 20-40 million dollars per kilometres. The cost is comparable to a metro but is still cheaper than a high speed rail. The return on investment will be in 8-10 years.
Q) So how is the project unfolding in India?
The letter of intent has been sent and the proposal is on the table, rest is up to the political will. It is not true that the government is not being proactive, we are working with them to identify possible routes.