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Coroplast Global | News | 17 May 2022 Coroflex supports the mu-zero Hyperloop – An interview with the developers

For several years, Coroflex has been cooperating with projects in the fields of e-mobility and innovative drives. In 2022, we started to support the project of the mu-zero HYPERLOOP association, in which students from four universities in Baden-Württemberg are developing a prototype for the Hyperloop originally launched by Tesla founder Elon Musk. In this interview, we spoke with the two team members Ferdinand Zöller and Robin Köhnlein, who are jointly responsible for the project's operations, including finance and sponsorship.

Can you briefly explain the vision of the hyperloop? What is revolutionary about it and what are the major benefits?

Ferdinand Zöller: The Hyperloop is basically capsules that can travel at extremely high speeds in an almost airless tube, with - in theory - no frictional losses. In the best case, the Hyperloop capsules would only have to provide acceleration and braking energy. Whereby the energy for braking could be fed back into the battery. In times of rising energy costs, electrified, energy-efficient hyperloop systems could represent a real alternative. 

Robin Köhnlein: Basically, we think that the technology can be used to transport both passengers and goods. In the long term, we see the greatest benefit in area of transporting goods.

How did the idea for your project - the mu-zero Hyperloop - first arise?

Robin Köhnlein: In June 2020, we founded the student association mu-zero HYPERLOOP e.V. with seven friends studing with us at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). At the beginning of our project was the idea to combine theory from our studies with practice. Thus, we created our own "green field" with the Hyperloop project, where all team members can contribute their different skills.

At what point is the project currently - does a prototype already exist?

Robin Köhnlein: We are currently in the final development phase of our second prototype. We completed and successfully presented our first Hyperloop capsule in 2021. In developing the prototypes, we work in annual cycles: We start with a concept phase, followed by a design phase, a manufacturing phase and finally an integration phase.

Ferdinand Zöller: The deadlines for our development are basically determined by the European Hyperloop Week (EHW). There we show our prototype and let it run on a test track. At the EHW, different teams from Europe and some other countries present their prototypes, which is very inspiring and promotes exchange. We really like the fact that the EHW is not just about speed. There are also prices for efficiency, scalability, innovation of the drive or the best business case, for example.

Team and first prototype of mu-zero HYPERLOOP e.V.
The team of mu-zero HYPERLOOP consists exclusively of students from Baden-Württemberg.

How did the collaboration with Coroflex come together?

Ferdinand Zöller: One of our colleagues had become acquainted with the Coroflex high-voltage cable product group during an internship at a major automotive manufacturer. Our sponsoring team then contacted Coroflex directly. The company was very open and quickly offered to help us with high-voltage cables, technical advice and simulations. We are very pleased that Coroflex has become a silver partner for our project in this context. In the simulations carried out online, we calculated the resulting heating together with Coroflex on the basis of our real current loads. This allowed us to directly check cable cross-sections that were already in use - and to save cable weights.

What are the Coroflex components used for?

Robin Köhnlein: The decisive factor for our project was that Coroflex not only helps us with high-quality high-voltage cables - the consulting services also meant that we were able to build our current prototype easily and innovatively. As far as components are concerned, Coroflex supports us primarily with the high-voltage drive train, to which the motor, among other things, is connected.

Ferdinand Zöller: Other major advantages of the Coroflex high-voltage cables for us are their high flexibility and low weight: You have to imagine that we are working in a very confined space in our prototype, which means that the bending radii of the cables have to be as small as possible and their weights as low as possible. The high-voltage cables that Coroflex provides us with accomplish both of these things. In addition, Coroflex supports us with shielded sensor cables, where interference with our on-board electronics is minimized.

Which steps are planned next? What can Hyperloop fans look forward to?

Ferdinand Zöller: We are currently in preparation for our "Hyper-Launch" on June 29 in Karlsruhe, where we will show our new prototype to the public for the first time. This will be followed by our participation in the European Hyperloop Week (July 18-24) in Delft. Both events are open to the public and can be attended digitally or on site by interested parties.

More generally, when do you think a Hyperloop could be put into operation?

Robin Köhnlein: It is difficult to give a scientifically well-founded answer to this. I suspect that we will have to be patient until around the year 2035. In this context, the question also arises: Where will we see a hyperloop system in operation? It will probably be difficult to build such a system in Germany and Europe. But for cargo systems in sparsely populated countries - for example in Saudi Arabia - the probability is much higher.

Thank you very much for the interview!

The prototype of the mu-zero HYPERLOOP e.V. drives on the test track in Munich
The first prototype of the mu-zero HYPERLOOP e.V. on the test track in Munich.