Capsules for the 700 mile-per-hour Hyperloop train will be made from a new carbon fibre-based material called Vibranium. The material is claimed to be eight times stronger than aluminium and 10 times stronger than steel.
Although a trademark of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), Vibranium is the same name as the fictional material which forms the shield used by Marvel Comics' Captain America
For use in the Hyperloop, Vibranium is a form of woven carbon fibre that is embedded with sensors which monitors the real-time performance of the material – sounding the alarm if any damage is detected. As well as damage, the material's temperature, stability, integrity and so on can be transmitted wirelessly. Vibranium is also light, weighing a claimed five times lighter than steel and 1.5 times lighter than aluminium.
'10 times safer than an airplane'
HTT explained: "The material communicates issues immediately and the Hyperloop capsule would be taken out of circulation for maintenance." Dirk Ahlborn, chief executive of HTT, said: "Safety is one of the most important aspects of our system. We are 10 times safer than an airplane. Our collaboration with Slovakia and their technical skills in new materials, automotive and production processes have made this technology possible."
Vibranium has been created for HTT by Slovakian company C2i, which produced carbon fibre for cars and aircraft. The new material will be used on the two-layer outer skin of Hyperloop carriages, which will each be blasted through a low-pressure tunnel at up to 700mph. Thanks to an electromagnet, HTT recently announced a magnetic levitation system to make the carriage float above rails.
HTT recently partnered with the Slovakian government and is looking to build a Hyperloop between the capital city of Bratislava and nearby cities Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary.
Borrowed from Captain America
The Vibranium used by Captain America is a near-indestructible material found in the fictional African country of Wakanda. Ahlborn admits the name has been borrowed from Marvel, although it isn't clear if HTT holds a valid trademark for the material.
HTT is not to be confused with Hyperloop One, formerly known as Hyperloop Technologies, another company setting out to build a Hyperloop train.
Both firms began work after Tesla CEO Elon Musk published a white paper in 2013 detailing how such a train might work. His plans described a train capable of taking passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco, a journey of 350 miles, in 30 minutes. Musk says he will not be involved with building a Hyperloop, as his commitments lie with Tesla and space transportation company SpaceX, and chairman of Solar City, a solar energy provider.