Ocean Subsurface Tubes

The Hyperloop is a great idea brought back to life by Elon Musk, but it didn’t take long before he realised that tunning these tubes above ground wasn’t feasible, due to the multitude of government jurisdictions, and that existing highway corridors couldn’t be followed at highspeed.

I anticipated this when it was first announced, and tried to contact the various companies trying to develop the engineering for the idea. But I never got a reply, so I’ll publish it here instead.

I watched What If We Built a Road Around the World? today. In it, he writes off Australia as having stretches of bridge too far. But I knew the solution, the same one for Hyperloop. This motivated me to write this today.

If tubes were submerged 50-100 meters below the ocean surface, ships would pass over without any trouble, and storm activity wouldn’t have an impact. They would be neutrally buoyant being made from heavy strong materials, tethered to the sea bed where possible, and may have propellers to counter-currents in-between.

I’m sure there would be more challenges such as ship anchors, but that comes down to engineering detail.

The tube would be built in segments in factories on land and pushed directly to sea. This would make the tubes cheaper to build than above water bridges and seabed tunnelling, plus they would be resellable to be redeployed somewhere else.

So these tubes could be cheaper than bridges for longer lengths (let’s assume > 5km), making it possible for road travel around the world.

But that’s not all. Being in the ocean means deployment in international waters which would eliminate a lot of red tape. The tubes could also support communications, electricity, and oil pipelines.

They could be air-evacuated for hyperloop type travel. And there are many interesting places they could be deployed. Such as on the west coast of the US for North-South travel, also to bypass the Darien Gap, to connect New Zealand to Australia, and Australia up to South-East Asia. With all the islands in the Pacific, there may be an economical route across the Pacific, but a full Atlantic crossing should also be feasible with the higher European-American demand.

I don’t have the money or time to build this, but I hope to travel from Sydney in San Francisco in a few hours one day.

 

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