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A hyperloop pod and its subsystems produce a significant amount of heat, while being in a low-pressure environment. How can hyperloop designers prevent the critical systems from overheating, crucial for the transport of both cargo and passengers?
A hyperloop pod is a levitating vehicle that travels within a low-pressure tube to achieve high speeds up to 300 m/s. Significant quantities of heat in the range of 6 kW to 30 MW are produced by various subsystems on the pod, including passengers. A thermal management systems (TMS) should prevent the critical subsystems from overheating. However, no research on a hyperloop TMS has yet been performed. In this research, the conceptual feasibility of radiation, sublimation and phase changing materials (PCMs) as a possible TMS for a full-scale hyperloop pod have been investigated. To this end, their mass, volume, and energy requirements, as well as their heat removal or storage capabilities were analyzed.
Thermal Managament Systems
Regarding the radiative heat removal system (RHRS), analytical calculations have been conducted on a one-sided fin radiating panel, based on a generalized heat-balance equation. To dissipate as much heat as possible into the tube, heat pumps must be incorporated into the RHRS. Therefore, their performance is investigated. For the analysis of the energy consumption of the sublimation based heat removal system (SBHRS), two-dimensional (2D) axisymmetric simulations have been performed using ANSYS Fluent to evaluate the aerodynamic drag. Simultaneously, the application of vacuum pumps and condensers on a hyperloop pod is explored. Their energy consumption is combined with the aerodynamic drag on the hyperloop pod to optimize the pressure in the tube. Furthermore, a thermal finite element method (FEM) analysis has been carried out using NX/Simcenter 3D to examine the charging process of seven selected PCMs, which are incorporated in the heat battery (HB) of the heat storage system (HSS). These PCMs were selected out of 97 PCMs with a melting temperature in the range of 0-30 °C, using the software ANSYS Granta EduPack. The melting behavior, as well as the mass, volume and energy consumption of the HSS are computed for a customized, full-scale heat battery, being a fin plate heat sink. The HSS possibly contains heat pumps, in the occasion that the temperature difference between the temperature of the coolant and the melting temperature of the PCMs needs to be bridged.
It is recommended to apply an HSS, a combination of an HSS and an RHRS, or an SBHRS as a TMS. The selection of the most suitable TMS relies on the specific heat generation of the full-scale hyperloop, depending on the specific presence of different subsystems and the duration of the trip. It was found that the RHRS is limited to an order of tens of kilowatts, while a PCM HSS and SBHRS are able to handle peak cooling capacities of a few megawatts. Although the SBHRS is able to absorb a higher total cooling capacity, it necessitates additional tube infrastructure. Since all options have a significant impact on the hyperloop system, the most effective solution is to minimize heat production.