31 August 2019
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