Forget about carrying cargo by truck, and instead imagine shuttling goods around inside a series of underground tubes. That's the hope of Henry Liu, a 73-year-old retired civil engineer and a past winner of PopSci's Inventions Awards for his environmentally safe green bricks.
The inventor has received $100,000 as an "encore career" prize from a San Francisco-based organization and plans to use part of the money to push his vision for revolutionizing freight transportation, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. The network would move boxcar-sized capsules inside underground pipes across long distances, and relies on an electromagnetic pump that Liu invented along with three former colleagues at the University of Missouri.
The idea attracted interest from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which ran a feasibility study in 2004. Liu showed that his system of pipelines working for New York alone could cut truck traffic by 10 billion vehicle miles, and suggested it could save on land use, cut carbon emissions and protect the cargo better from terrorist attacks.
Liu has founded a company named Freight Pipeline to pursue his transportation idea, so we'll be keeping an interested eye on that. But for now, he can look forward to receiving his $100,000 Purpose Prize from the Civic Ventures think tank at Stanford University this coming weekend.
[via Columbia Daily Tribune]
This seems like it would be a tremendous undertaking, to get tubes criss-crossing the United States, and then how do you get them to the specific locations? Will they just build the tubes to connect central collection facilities (like, take all the packages going from New York to Chicago and put them in one tube) and then have smaller trucks to distribute them to the individual locations, or will it be more involved than that?
Basically its all the best parts of a train without the worst parts (no derailing, no traffic interference, no potential for death due to collision).
But how do you explain it to a customer when one breaks down and they have to wait for the tube to be unearthed and breached to get their good trucked to their destination?
Also don't forget that the U.S. is riddled with underground pipelines for natural gas and crude, among other things.
I'm interested to see how they would handle some of these scenarios.
think of it like an underground subway with all those acess entrys on the surface.
So, the cargo transportation system of the united states will no longer be big trucks, but instead a series of tubes?
I hope he fills the tunnels with hydrogen or helium to eliminate most of the friction due to compression of the air around the train.
sure, why not put high voltage and velocity in a confined environment with hydrogen?
Wouldn't the access doors have vents to prevent the compression effect?
Don't you ever watch the Jetsons? Tube based travel is the wave of the future!
Sounds think a good idea. It will take jobs away from truck drivers but might create more jobs for maintaining to tunnels also construction work. Plus, easier way to send bombs to certain areas. Just a thought. Hope they consider that before making them.