Design and testing

The structures team will be responsible for design and testing of three main components of Warwick Hyperloop pod. Shell, chassis, and battery containers. The shell is a structure that covers the entire pod and serves two main purposes. Firstly, it makes the pod to look aesthetically pleasing, which in turn benefits marketing. Secondly and more importantly, it reduces aerodynamic drag by having a streamlined body with a very smooth surface finish. The entire shell will be made out of carbon fibre which not only provides structural rigidity, but also keeps the pod light. With the help of computational fluid dynamics, simulations of each design will be performed to find the shape with best aerodynamics. During the manufacturing process, the shell will likely be required to be produced in multiple sections depending on the complexity of design. Finally, all parts will be joined together to form a sleek and good looking shell.

The second and most important component of all is chassis. The chassis is used to connect every single component of the pod together that will provide enough strength and rigidity to not only support the pod's weight, but also be strong enough to keep the pod in one piece during the exhaustive stress during acceleration and deceleration. The chassis will need to be designed from scratch with a monocoque style meaning that the chassis' shape determines the shape of the outer body. This style of chassis design makes for a much lighter pod since all materials used are absolutely essential to the pod's strength and rigidity. All excess materials are kept to a minimum which saves in both costs and weight. This will also be made almost entirely out of carbon fibre which will make it very strong while also being very light. Every single detail is custom designed which means that manufacturing is quite complex.

Finally, the battery containers are used to house the batteries to power the entire pod. Since the pod will be traveling in a near vacuum environment, the air pressure will be very low. However, the batteries used will require atmospheric pressure to function properly. The way we overcame this problem was to place all batteries in a pressurised container that will be pressurised to atmospheric pressure. The shape of these containers will be designed to withstand the pressure differential with minimal materials, therefore, weight. The material used for this component will likely be a strong but light metal, for example, titanium.

By Hanqi Liu

Chassis

A big part of the design of our previous Hyperloop pod was, of course, the chassis. It is the backbone of the pod and it is what everything attaches to from the driving wheel to the battery packs powering the pod. The most challenging part was figuring out what needed to be attached to the chassis as knowing what needs to be supported is very useful, it's like trying to make a skeleton before knowing what organs and muscles are even going to be there. We used Autodesk Fusion 360 to design the chassis which is a piece of CAD software widely used in industry. Fusion 360 allows us to model a design for the chassis in 3D space making it very easy to visualise and make any design changes.

An added feature of Fusion 360 is its ability to simulate a system of forces on any given design, allowing to not only make a good-looking design but a practical one. We were able to use this feature to simulate the kind of forces the chassis would experience when the pod is running, and this helped identify and strengthen any weak points. After many iterations and failed ideas, we arrived at the final design which we believe is both efficient and practical.

By Prenavin Mudaly

Powertrain

The Powertrain is the core component for our Hyperloop pod encompassing the batteries, inverters and motors.

The batteries we chose must be capable of sustaining our pod for the entirety of its journey. Not only that, our chosen cells must be able to withstand huge amounts of electrical stress. Our cells are capable of discharging at over 500A, this phenomenal rate is one of the best in the world.

The chosen motors will use what is known as ‘Alternating Current’ but the batteries will discharge ‘Direct Current’. Therefore, we will utilise ‘Inverters’, which are electronic components that convert DC to AC and also provide us the means to programme our motor controller software.

Without the right electrical motors, our pod would not be able to reach the target speed. So the final challenge for the powertrain team is to work in parallel with the dynamics team to deliver motors that can provide incredible amounts of torque while also taking up as little space as possible; this is no mean feat.

By Alexander Bennett