Paradigm & Northeastern Capstone Partnership
Over the past year, Paradigm Hyperloop has partnered with Northeastern Capstone to plan and deliver three long term projects in parallel with the competition Pod development. Since Competition II, we've strived to not only participate in the SpaceX-sponsored events but to also have a forward-looking, research branch of the team that designs Hyperloop-related technology. However, building a Pod is a tough job, especially if you do it part-time. Historically, our future branch had been resource-constrained and unable to move forward with their projects at a good pace, because competition Pod always took priority.
Northeastern Capstone Program supercharged us with three groups of talented and motivated students, who set off to design and build test equipment for three key pieces of Hyperloop tech: air levitation, magnetic braking, and suspension.
We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Andrew Gouldstone, Dr. Mohammad Taslim, and Dr. Kumar Abhishek for making these project possible!
Elon Musk's original Hyperloop Alpha paper called for a novel air bearing system as a more cost-effective replacement for maglev. Theoretical analysis by Couette-Poiseuille flow and computational fluid dynamics models have shown that the system is plausible. However, within the framework of the Hyperloop competition, having a levitation system hadn’t made sense ever since top speed was chosen as the winning criterion, since having it necessarily made a pod heavier than its wheeled counterpart. Even at top speeds seen in competition III, wheels hold up just fine, so many Hyperloop teams shifted focus away from building levitation technology into their competition pods. Without access to the Hypertube outside of the competition, where does one go to test their air bearing? Nowhere, we decided. We do it right at home, in Boston! We decided to use Reynold's number scaling to simulate Hypertube environments in a wind tunnel. Some might argue that in doing so, we lost testing integrity, as we would be unable to also match the Mach number, but we reasoned that if we stuck to 30% of the speed of sound, the compression effects would be negligible, and we would have our proof of concept! So it was settled.
The next technical challenge to tackle was that a Hyperloop Pod is intended to levitate only a few hundred mils above the track, so we had to consider the effects boundary layer formation at the bottom of our tunnel. To properly simulate flow regimes near the ground, we decided to equip our wind tunnel with one of the worlds fastest treadmills. At this point, we had a high-level design in mind, and we got to work. We began by partnering with a third party, TuffTread, to design and build the treadmill. It took 3 months to complete, weighed 2 tons, and stored 3 MJ of kinetic energy at its top speed of 210 mph. We briefly considered enrolling into SmartGrid as a demand-spike buffer, but quickly gave up that idea.
We documented the requirements for the wind tunnel that was to encompass our new treadmill, and under guidance from Dr. Taslim, began working on the design with a group of 5 then junior undergraduate students. We imagined the tunnel to be rather simple at first, but soon realized that, for example, an open loop tunnel won't work because there just isn't enough air in our build space to sustain its operation, and it’s going to be as loud as a passenger jet at take-off. A long 6 months later, we settled on a closed loop system with a separately grounded support for the test articles - something we learned from doing sub-scale mockups. The following 6 months were spent assembling the frame, ductwork, test section and testing the test equipment to make sure it's safe. As of the time of this writing, we have commissioned our wind tunnel, and are ready to begin experimentation in the summer!
We always thought that it would be elegant to accelerate, coast and brake without contact with the track. While the first two feats would be attained by our levitation system, the last is up to eddy currents to handle. We've researched many papers describing magnetic or eddy current braking, and found mostly contradicting models and poorly controlled experiments with little to no follow-up. So, we decided to find out for ourselves. Fueled by enthusiasm from another group of 5 undergrads under Dr. Kumar's guidance, we made a COMSOL Multiphysics model of a rotating aluminum disk and two permanent magnet Halbach arrays. We quickly found that we were limited in how fast we could simulate the rotating disk because of the computational cost associated with smaller mesh elements that were required to properly represent the eddy current effects at higher speeds. So, we proceeded to build a real-life version of the setup and test it up to the simulation speeds. Our test machine featured a sliding cart with two small Halbach arrays. The cart would toggle in and out, allowing us to brake and release. As of late April, we able to validate our simulation and found that we are within 10% of the test results. We plan to upgrade our setup with a beefier motor and see how far we can take our system this summer.
Any dynamic system wants some kind of energy storage and damping to remain stable. We have historically relied on MATLAB and Simulink to design our suspension systems, but with competition speeds pushing 300 mph, we felt that a hardware-in-loop validation strategy would provide a great advantage to the team. So we joined forces with the last group of 5 undergrads and developed a 4 degree-of-freedom, "half-pod" dynamic simulation. We then built what looks like the world's most tangible free-body diagram. With a VFD controlled AC motor and a camshaft, we're able to simulate various speeds, disturbance amplitudes and phase shifts between the front and back of our "Pod." Both suspended and un-suspended masses are monitored with precision distance sensors. Our test machine has been fully validated and will allow us to fine-tune our suspension before shipping the pod to California for Comp IV!
June 3rd, 2019
Official Competition IV Acceptance Announcement
Over the past eight months, members of Paradigm Hyperloop have relentlessly prioritized team-related activities over many other personal, social, and even professional commitments in order to advance our common dream - accelerating the advent of the 5th mode of transportation. At the end of February, our work has yielded its first fruit: acceptance into the Hyperloop competition!
While the toughest work is still ahead, this was a major milestone for our team, and we want to share the elation that comes with reaching it with our fans and followers! We truly appreciate the interest and support from all of you, make sure to check out the following video of our pod unveil (Paradigm by @monstercat)
March 25th, 2019
Final Design Package Submitted
Recently, we submitted our Final Design Package (FDP) to SpaceX. This document is a critical component of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, determining whether or not teams will advance based on the contents of the document. The FDP is used to highlight all design aspects of the vehicle; including specifications, drawings, safety parameters, budgeting, manufacturing timelines and sections on scalability.
Our team has been working tirelessly on this document for over three months. Countless hours of hard work have gone into creating our FDP, with some team members working throughout the holidays to ensure its completion by the deadline, on January 11th.
The team celebrated the submission by having socials in both Boston and Newfoundland. While we wait for SpaceX’s decision, our team is busily preparing for manufacturing by organizing timeline schedules and budgeting strategies. No matter the news, our team is ecstatic with our FDP submission and proud of the vehicle we have designed.
January 22nd, 2019
CoLab Software Student Team Sponsorship Program
Paradigm Hyperloop is excited to announce that we have partnered with CoLab Software through their new Student Team Sponsorship Program!
CoLab was founded by two Memorial University of Newfoundland alumni and mechanical engineers, CEO Adam Keating, and CTO Jeremy Andrews. After founding Paradigm Hyperloop, the pair faced recurring challenges in communicating mechanical designs within the team. While completing internships at industry-leading companies, they experienced the same issue. CoLab’s product, Gradient, is a mechanical design review platform that aims to alleviate communication barriers commonly found in design processes. The web-based platform allows designers, engineers and external stakeholders to easily share two- and three-dimensional CAD files for in-depth review, while also enabling streamlined issue and project tracking.
Gradient will be a valuable tool in our progression towards the design of a vehicle capable of reaching 500 km/hr at the 2019 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. We will be utilizing Gradient for both internal reviews as well as for demonstrations with our advisory board and sponsors. As an international team of students from diverse technical backgrounds, we often face challenges in communicating our concepts and design progression. Gradient will help us directly solve this issue, thus increasing the team’s overall productivity. Furthermore, CoLab will be mentoring the team, rooted in their expertise in software architecture, mechanical design, and project management. Paradigm Hyperloop is extremely grateful for CoLab’s support and we’re excited to utilize the technology throughout our design process!
November 5th, 2018
Paradigm Hyperloop's Feature in Memorial University’s Newsletter
July 31st, 2018
SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition 2018
Several members of the Paradigm Hyperloop team attended the third annual SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. The competition was based on one parameter - maximum speed. Whichever team self-propelled to the highest speed in the one-mile test track at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California wins. SpaceX invited the team to view the innovative work that the other student teams have been working on over the past year. It was a great opportunity to meet the other teams and discuss their designs, team dynamics, and the struggles they have been facing.
Paradigm Hyperloop would like to congratulate all of the teams that competed this year, all of the designs were unique. Out of the 1000+ teams that applied this year, 20 were invited to compete. Of these 20 teams, only 6 passed the safety tests to SpaceX’s satisfaction. Due to time constraints, 3 teams were chosen to race on the competition day based on safety and functionality.
WARR Hyperloop reached an incredible record speed of 467 km/hr to claim a first-place finish. Delft Hyperloop placed second and EPFL placed third. Paradigm Hyperloop is excited to finalize the design of a Hyperloop vehicle that will compete in this top tier next summer. Optimization is currently underway regarding our air levitated, electric motor propelled pod. This year’s pod is aimed to be a third of the weight and half the length of last competition’s pod and will surpass this year’s record speed. Testing is underway between the two universities to validate our levitation and braking systems. The extra time between competitions has enabled this testing to occur as well as in-depth improvements of the team and vehicle. Stay tuned for further updates on our contribution to the fifth mode of transportation!
July 31st, 2018
STEM Outreach Pod Tour
This past week we had the opportunity to show the Teen Circuit Youth Summer Camp around our competition II pod. The kids got the chance to experience a presentation that gave them an inside look into how Paradigm operates and the fundamentals of Hyperloop technology. We then the group through a show and tell of the pod led by Jack Chapman and Josh Elson (pictured).
So, what do kids gain by learning about Hyperloop? Will it lead them to a career in this field? It very well could. The value of touring a Hyperloop pod at age 13 is inspiration to a career in STEM, and show the next generation that they don’t have to wait until they have completed graduate school and are well into their adult years to start innovating. It can happen any time that you are willing to learn, work hard, create a design and iterate.
Now, as Hyperloop designers what do we think the optimal thing for these kids to do when they go home? In the 12 to 15 age group without any question its to start programming, and start playing with electronics (Arduino projects, etc). These types of fundamental STEM skills will put you far ahead no matter what field you enter whether it is mechanical engineering, physics, chemistry, or even medicine. This experience extends well beyond the electrical engineering and computer science fields. In order to innovate you need to be able to build instruments to validate experimentation, quickly design a controller to manipulate a product, and write code to analyze your results. Programming and completing electronics projects builds the fundamental skills you need to do this, and all fields of science and engineering could benefit more from professionals who can design their own simple test setups. We hope to have made an impression that will last with this group, and we look forward to seeing many of them in the halls at Memorial University in the years to come.
July 19th, 2018
Swagelok Training Seminar
When tackling the design and build of high pressure pneumatic systems, it is critical to implement best practice methods and keep personnel safe at all times. A leaky fitting or blow out can shut down an entire operation in an instant resulting in unnecessary down time as well as costly repairs. These challenges are met in industry every day so we are excited to be working with Swagelok to advance our second generation air supply system safely and reliably.
Swagelok recently hosted a hands on training session with the team, providing the opportunity to learn about the correct method of installing Swagelok tube fittings which will be used extensively in our new pod. It was great to chat with their engineers about Hyperloop technology and the importance of student design teams as well as learn more about tubing applications in industry.
As the evening progressed we were pleased to give the guys a tour of the pod and officially place their logo on our pod. We are extremely grateful for their support and look forward to working with Swagelok, drawing on their expertise in pneumatic systems as we continue to develop our technology!
How could you leverage the use of tube fittings in your high pressure application?
June 12th, 2018
Paradigm's Transition to an Electric Propulsion System
We have recently performed a team-wide design review of our vehicle, and one of the most substantial outcomes was a decision to switch our propulsion system from cold gas to electric-motor based. We made this change to bring us back to one of our core goals: making the most functional Hyperloop vehicle possible.
While cold gas presents the opportunity of high speed at low weights, along with unrivaled acceleration, electric motor propulsion presents a much more scalable and realistic solution in Hyperloop development. Additionally, electric motors are well developed and are becoming pervasive in modern society, whereas cold gas land propulsion is used in limited applications, and is almost entirely untested in vacuum tubes on earth.
Where the team focuses on developing a scalable and feasible Hyperloop pod that can transport passengers and goods safely, the approach that is inherently safer and more reliable was the logical choice.
June 6th, 2018