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Boring endeavours

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odysseus2000
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Boring endeavours

#139764

Postby odysseus2000 » May 18th, 2018, 8:36 am

It now begins to look like boring holes underground has substantial potential to change transportation.

This is the latest video by The Boring Company:

https://youtu.be/ofRm13SbP5g

The emphasis was on speeding city transport using tunnels & intercity transport with underground hyperloop tunnels.

Going underground with hyperloop solves most of the issues, although if there was a problem how one might do a rescue is unclear to me.

But there are other implications if this developing technology that will impact other areas including:

Battery powered locomotives, making the current UK fixation with overhead electric trains lame, in terms of performance, impact & on going maintenance & running costs.

The development of new brick materials using tunnel spoils as a better brick than either fired clay or concrete: Clear impact on brick & concrete makers.

If boring speeds of 1/10th human walking speed can be achieved the possibility for many underground hyperloops will likely impact air carriers & probably ocean transport too.

Regards,

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139785

Postby tjh290633 » May 18th, 2018, 10:34 am

Battery powered locomotives are only practicable for very short runs, unless they are able to recharge on the run using conventional electrified lines. It comes down to "last mile" operations where the battery is used. There are a few trial conversions of passenger units, but it seems unfeasible for freight operations.

The hyperloop concept reminds me of the South Devon Atmospheric Railway, which was an ignominious failure.

TJH

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139804

Postby ReformedCharacter » May 18th, 2018, 12:00 pm

odysseus2000 wrote:It now begins to look like boring holes underground has substantial potential to change transportation.

This is the latest video by The Boring Company:

https://youtu.be/ofRm13SbP5g

The emphasis was on speeding city transport using tunnels & intercity transport with underground hyperloop tunnels.

Going underground with hyperloop solves most of the issues, although if there was a problem how one might do a rescue is unclear to me.

But there are other implications if this developing technology that will impact other areas including:

Battery powered locomotives, making the current UK fixation with overhead electric trains lame, in terms of performance, impact & on going maintenance & running costs.

The development of new brick materials using tunnel spoils as a better brick than either fired clay or concrete: Clear impact on brick & concrete makers.

If boring speeds of 1/10th human walking speed can be achieved the possibility for many underground hyperloops will likely impact air carriers & probably ocean transport too.

Regards,


I'm a Musk fan because I admire the way SpaceX has nudged the space industry. My elder son even bought me a Boring Co. cap which I actually wear sometimes. I don't think Musk is a technical innovator despite the way that he and his companies would like to portray him. He is a great publicist and salesman, although if I'd been at the event in the video I would have found his stuttering and pausing extremely trying and tedious to listen to.

As far as I can see SpaceX has produced little (or perhaps no) technical innovation. Landing stages on a barge is very neat (and great marketing) but it isn't something that couldn't have been done decades ago. Landing a man on the moon with the world's first fully throttleable rocket engine was a real technical achievement but that was done nearly 50 years ago. Although I admit I don't know, I suspect Tesla cars are much the same, electrically propelled vehicles have a long history > 150 years. Of course battery technology has developed considerably in recent times but all without the hand of Elon Musk.

I'd be interested to hear the views of someone who understands brick manufacture and again, I suspect there's absolutely nothing new here either. Certainly there's nothing new in making them out of 'compressed dirt with just a bit of concrete'. Absolutely nothing new.

What next, I wonder? Air that's 'like 200% more breathable dude' or water 'that's twice as refreshing unlike the boring old stuff'?

Hype? It's even in the name.

RC

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139808

Postby PeterGray » May 18th, 2018, 12:07 pm

The hyperloop concept reminds me of the South Devon Atmospheric Railway, which was an ignominious failure.

Causing problems to this day - a road scheme near here has just had to be put on hold as they've unearthed a reservoir that was part of the system - and is likely to be preserved in some way!

Agreed re battery versus power lines. If you are building all the expensive infrastructure of a railway (let alone one underground) it's almost certainly going to be better to power the trains via some sort of power line arrangement than accept the cost in terms of battery weight, charging times, range etc. Weight is a big issue for trains that have to stop and start. The benefits that may apply to replacing HC power with electricity in electric road vehicles simply don't apply to battery powered trains, where you replace one form of electric power with another.

Peter

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139845

Postby odysseus2000 » May 18th, 2018, 3:04 pm

There seems to be some confusion here:

Entrepreneurs are not inventors, their place in the sphere of business is to take ideas, often old ones, and make money out of them. Often this leads to shadows as one finds with Arkwright, Edison... and many others: Did they steal someone else's work and profit from it. Often the anecdotal evidence is yes, but they all manage to make a vast amount of money and don't end up in the slammer. Remember that laws are made by rich folk, for rich folk. You can hate humanity for this or just accept it and try to profit from it.

Yes, Nasa did have throttle control rockets 50 years ago, but they didn't make re-landing rockets, which is exactly what SpaceX has done, classic entrepreneurial behaviour.

Re batteries and locomotives. If, as one finds all over the net, batteries have to be recharged in loco applications, how can Tesla make a semi with a range of 1000 km? In researching all of this one needs to bear in mind that much analysis is using lead-acid batteries, others using Nickel Metal hydride, but little is using lithium ion. There were successful UK tests of lithium ion passenger trains and there is no reason that I can find why one can't have battery powered locos. Lots of folk say electric motors don't have enough torque which if you research the subject will have you guffawing. It is diesel engines that have very poor torque, hence the need for tens of gears in 18 wheeler trucks and in diesel trains and why most cars need 5 or 6 years, whereas electric don't need a gear box. The torque characteristics of electric is why diesel-electric propulsion has been a preferred technology for decades in things like warships.

Yes, of course Brunel's vacuum railway was a flop, but things have changed enormously in so many technologies that extrapolating from old data points to new is like sending infantry against machine guns, something that was done many times in the first war, till it was noted that we were running out of soldiers.

Yes it is likely that Musk didn't invent his bricks, but can he sell them? Everything comes down to this question and based on what else he has managed to flog one has to wonder and if he does will this effect existing brick makers?

Regards,

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139861

Postby ReformedCharacter » May 18th, 2018, 4:16 pm

odysseus2000 wrote:There seems to be some confusion here:

Entrepreneurs are not inventors, their place in the sphere of business is to take ideas, often old ones, and make money out of them. Often this leads to shadows as one finds with Arkwright, Edison... and many others: Did they steal someone else's work and profit from it. Often the anecdotal evidence is yes, but they all manage to make a vast amount of money and don't end up in the slammer. Remember that laws are made by rich folk, for rich folk. You can hate humanity for this or just accept it and try to profit from it.

Regards,


I don't think I'm confused about it, Musk markets himself as an innovator and I don't believe he is. He's a great showman and self-publicist and I admire him for it but I don't believe his bricks or his batteries are any better than any other on the market. When I see videos like the one in your link it reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. As I say, I'm a fan of his but he's a showman and it wouldn't be a stretch to see his show fall out of favour.

RC

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139895

Postby odysseus2000 » May 18th, 2018, 6:34 pm

Reformed Character
I don't think I'm confused about it, Musk markets himself as an innovator and I don't believe he is. He's a great showman and self-publicist and I admire him for it but I don't believe his bricks or his batteries are any better than any other on the market. When I see videos like the one in your link it reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. As I say, I'm a fan of his but he's a showman and it wouldn't be a stretch to see his show fall out of favour.



Yes, there is the rub & why Tesla has a very large short position as many folk loathe Musk thinking he is purely a showman & his whole endeavour a big scam.

They may all be right, but from my studies of historical people of a similar vein, what one sees of Musk is classic entrepreneur with an ability to charm money out of investment funds & an ability to motivate folk to do good stuff & sell it profitably.

He is the first of the Internet global entrepreneurs, reaching folk across the planet via the internet in a way that has never been done before.

Is he going to become a Edison or be run out of town like the Railway King Hudson following financial disaster?

A legacy of being helpful & useful to humanity or a fallen conman?

Regards,

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139921

Postby ReformedCharacter » May 18th, 2018, 8:59 pm

odysseus2000 wrote:
Reformed Character
I don't think I'm confused about it, Musk markets himself as an innovator and I don't believe he is. He's a great showman and self-publicist and I admire him for it but I don't believe his bricks or his batteries are any better than any other on the market. When I see videos like the one in your link it reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. As I say, I'm a fan of his but he's a showman and it wouldn't be a stretch to see his show fall out of favour.



Yes, there is the rub & why Tesla has a very large short position as many folk loathe Musk thinking he is purely a showman & his whole endeavour a big scam.

They may all be right, but from my studies of historical people of a similar vein, what one sees of Musk is classic entrepreneur with an ability to charm money out of investment funds & an ability to motivate folk to do good stuff & sell it profitably.

He is the first of the Internet global entrepreneurs, reaching folk across the planet via the internet in a way that has never been done before.

Is he going to become a Edison or be run out of town like the Railway King Hudson following financial disaster?

A legacy of being helpful & useful to humanity or a fallen conman?

Regards,


I'll try a give a more considered reply :) My point about Musk not being an innovator is to try to find what his competitive advantage is. I don't believe it comes from innovation which - as I mentioned on 'Musk Endeavours' - is no guarantee of profit as demonstrated by Nikolai Tesla and Edison. Musk attracts a cult following in my opinion. Some of this PR is pretty infantile, such as calling 'an analyst' a 'boring bonehead'. Look no further than the video that you linked to see what I think was a snail on stage to demonstrate the relative speed of tunnelling machines. On the subject of tunnelling machines the video makes a point of 'making them go 10 times faster' as if this was some genius insight, maybe this was the point of the snail. This stuff is aimed at a young and gullible audience. Maybe it's a good business strategy but I find it hard to take very seriously. Having said that, I watched the Falcon Heavy launch and think that it was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen.

Then again, both SpaceX and Boeing are due to start launching humans soon and if I ask myself 'Which rocket would I rather be sitting in on top of of the launchpad, SpaceX or Boeing?' I don't have to think long to go for Boeing who have been in the business since years before Musk was born and who have a long history of considering risk to human life and who don't tweet about 'rapid unplanned disassembly' when it all blows up.

I think Musk has been lucky so far. He didn't blow up too many rockets before getting paying business and so far his car business hasn't been too badly tarnished by people relying on dodgy software to drive them along. Compare and contrast with Bezos's Blue Origin rocket business which is developing the largest ever oxygen and methane engines and who likely have a contact to supply them to the United Launch Alliance. Innovative - and if Bezos has anything to do with it - profitable as well.

RC

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139939

Postby odysseus2000 » May 19th, 2018, 12:01 am

Hi Reformed Character,

In my view we often, I am very guilty of this, look for complications. It is part of the School/higher education system to reward complex behaviour, but should complex behaviour be rewarded?

Clearly every student knows that the more sophisticated an approach, the more likely are higher marks, but does that transfer over to business?

When I have watched the Apprentice it has often been the team that has had the simpler and more easily executed model that has beaten the team with a more complex model. Buffett also makes the point that in business, simple often triumphs over complex.

Sure one can say that Musk simplifies too much and that his snail stuff and his want to go ten times faster are obvious, but if so why didn't someone else think of them. I have had battles with Patent Officers over things like this. Something does not have to be complicated to be innovative, and in many ways the less complicated the better.

Musk has mastered this approach well and I would argue that is a skill that many think is trivial but which from what I see isn't. In my own small scale business dealings I am regularly vexed by my ability to find complex solutions when simple ones will do and now I put a lot of effort into finding ways to make what I want to do simpler and when I do I am often amazed by how it speeds manufacture and how the punters tend to like it. One can argue that I have been lucky, but there is always far more effort to make something simple than complex to do a specific task.

If one wants to argue that Musk takes too many risks we have to remember the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. There was a huge risk taken there by established players and astro-naughts died. Or the disaster in the Apollo program were astro-naughts were burned to death on the tower. Similarly there were some dangerous Lithium battery fires in the Boeing "Dream Liner" passenger jet. Apollo 13 was a miraculous escape from some bad engineering. Additionally there was a fatality in Branson's space rocket testing program.

At some point everything comes down to what is achieved and so far Musk has in my opinion done well and demonstrated skill. If I am right then the share price of Tesla is very cheap, If I am wrong then everything will have been luck and the shorts will make a fortune.

I just keep looking and seeking opportunities to prosper. As things now stand it looks to me like Boring might turn out to be a serous money maker.

Regards,

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139944

Postby TUK020 » May 19th, 2018, 7:14 am

PeterGray wrote:[i] If you are building all the expensive infrastructure of a railway (let alone one underground) it's almost certainly going to be better to power the trains via some sort of power line arrangement than accept the cost in terms of battery weight, charging times, range etc. Weight is a big issue for trains that have to stop and start. The benefits that may apply to replacing HC power with electricity in electric road vehicles simply don't apply to battery powered trains, where you replace one form of electric power with another.

Peter


This is not an all/nothing choice if one considers the power demand profile along the track.
You need most of the power to accelerate away from the station. For a long stretch between stations you are coasting along (except where you are climbing a hill), then you are breaking (recharging) for the next station.
There is probably a good tradeoff where you provide power-lines for a tenth of the track length, and run on batteries for the remainder.

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139947

Postby johnhemming » May 19th, 2018, 8:09 am

I find Musk's work and proposals impressive. It does challenge the complacency of the establishment. I was very impressed by the landing of the two side boosters after the launch of his car en route to mars(ish).

I have always been surprised at the cost of large projects, but it is really difficult to challenge in the public sector.

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139950

Postby Itsallaguess » May 19th, 2018, 8:47 am

johnhemming wrote:
I was very impressed by the landing of the two side boosters after the launch of his car en route to mars(ish).


Doesn't that single sentence just about sum up how any question around Musk's 'competitive advantage' is dubious from the offset?

We can talk all day about some other large, existing company being 'able' to do this stuff as well 'if they wanted to', but he's actually doing it on many fronts, and taking the world with him regarding some of the long-term ideas he's showing us the reality of, and the ability to deliver on ideas has got to be the cornerstone of any 'competitive advantage' that Musk continues to hold...

Now we can throw the phrase 'deliver on ideas' so many years into the future that it becomes rather meaningless to be honest - will we not say his Hyperloop transport idea is 'delivered' until huge numbers of cities around the world employ it for large parts of their public-transport delivery? At what point does an idea actually become 'delivered'?

I'd argue that large sections of his SpaceX programme have already 'delivered', which is reflected in the sentence quoted above, but others may disagree and suggest that 'delivery' means long-term payload success over many years....

To be clear, I'm not sure how successful a business-man he'll be, but history is littered with examples of fine men who didn't actually make any money, and I'm sure Musk will at the very least be added to some of those ranks....

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139957

Postby johnhemming » May 19th, 2018, 9:13 am

Itsallaguess wrote: he's actually doing it on many fronts,

I was sceptical about SpaceX when it was founded. In fact I looked at making Electric Cars in the late 80s, but at the time lead acid batteries could not store the required energy.

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Re: Boring endeavours

#139982

Postby PeterGray » May 19th, 2018, 12:28 pm

There is probably a good tradeoff where you provide power-lines for a tenth of the track length, and run on batteries for the remainder.

Possibly, but I doubt it! You end up with the additional cost, complexity and weight penalties of both methods.

Peter

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Re: Boring endeavours

#140000

Postby odysseus2000 » May 19th, 2018, 2:10 pm

PeterGray
There is probably a good tradeoff where you provide power-lines for a tenth of the track length, and run on batteries for the remainder.

Possibly, but I doubt it! You end up with the additional cost, complexity and weight penalties of both methods.

Peter


Have you considered the weight, cost & complexity problems associated with diesel electric locos which have been the design of choice for advanced railway locos.

You have to have a huge Diesel engine & then a huge generator, made more tolerable by the use of high current switches favouring an alternator type model. The Diesel engine has no connection to the power train, it purely provides power for the electrical generator. There is a big wiki page on Diesel locos if you want more details.

Or you can have a very large number of lithium ion batteries for the same weight & have all the advantages of battery power including no carbon emission, no pollution at source & if charged by renewables, no carbon at all.

The fact that all of us have lived with Diesel engines tends to blind us to how bad an engine they are. Efficiencies under ideal conditions of around 35%, very limited torque range requiring huge heavy gear box, lots of emission controls, high maintenance costs,...

If we had had lithium batteries after the steam age, no one would have bothered with Diesel as it sucks as fuel & as a Diesel engine.

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Re: Boring endeavours

#140069

Postby PeterGray » May 19th, 2018, 7:38 pm

I very clearly wasn't comparing diesel with battery electric. All new high speed rail projects, which you have to compare hyperboleloop too, are pure electric. The issue is battery vs power line for electric power - and the specific point I was responding to was a suggestion of having hybrid electric - both powerline and battery. Issues about the weight and complexity issues of having diesel electric systems are irrelevant (even if that is the nonsense we are ending up with in the West Country now the electrification program has been starved of cash).

Peter

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Re: Boring endeavours

#140070

Postby johnhemming » May 19th, 2018, 7:55 pm

PeterGray wrote: All new high speed rail projects, which you have to compare hyperboleloop too, are pure electric.

My understanding of the underground public transport is that it is not necessarily high speed, but actually commuting. It is a sensible use of that area of space (although probably best not across the St Andreas Fault).

Many public transport schemes are not properly driven by cost effectiveness (eg light rail which I like to travel on, but I don't like for its transport effects in terms of damaging buses and cost).

In essence because of the costs of schemes underground schemes require a higher residential density. If the costs can be reduced then they are cost effective at a lower residential density. Simples.

If it runs on rails (for a lower rolling resistance) and doesn't have something close to a vacuum it still might move people around better than the cars.

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Re: Boring endeavours

#140088

Postby odysseus2000 » May 19th, 2018, 10:03 pm

Peter Gray
I very clearly wasn't comparing diesel with battery electric. All new high speed rail projects, which you have to compare hyperboleloop too, are pure electric. The issue is battery vs power line for electric power - and the specific point I was responding to was a suggestion of having hybrid electric - both powerline and battery. Issues about the weight and complexity issues of having diesel electric systems are irrelevant (even if that is the nonsense we are ending up with in the West Country now the electrification program has been starved of cash).


Yes, but what I was attempting to argue is that locos have been built with very heavy diesel electric generators & have performed satisfactorily.

Given this pre-history it seems very likely, at least to me, that locos could have very heavy batteries & still be useful with all the advantages I mentioned.

In the North West the electrification process is on hold following the collapse of one of the major contractors, the transfer of assets to another who has since transferred to a third who has stopped work in progress saying everything has to be re-costed. Thus has meant that 3/4 complete work on a local viaduct has stopped & the contractors have left the site. An exercise that one would find hard to believe in a fictional story, but real like doesn't have such constraints.

If instead of all the overhead wires & associated bridge lifting etc, the trains had been made battery powered the whole thing could have been done for a tiny fraction of the cost & very much more quickly.

Regards,

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Re: Boring endeavours

#140089

Postby tjh290633 » May 19th, 2018, 10:24 pm

It might be worth your while reading Informed Sources in the latest issue of Modern Railways, which has a lot to say on battery powered trains. See https://modern-railways.keypublishing.com

TJH

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Re: Boring endeavours

#140111

Postby odysseus2000 » May 20th, 2018, 2:52 am

Didn't want subscription to Modern Railways, but this MSc thesis is interesting:

https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/ ... ssue-2.pdf

The problem is that what one reads & what happens in practice diverge so much that it is hard to have confidence in The written word.

There is too much focus on manufacturers claims & too little practical work.

Overhead wires are expensive & the culture of the rail contractors at the electrification works near me has alienated almost everyone. We have witnessed extremely slow work, great expense & all for minimal reduction in journey times if the work is ever finished.

It is a sorry business indicating that the managers & politicians have lost control of the process.

Comparing what we have witnessed to what Musk has done with the boring company is the difference between innovation & decay.

Regards,


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