Steel makers Tata Steel in Europe and POSCO from South Korea will collaborate to develop and test cutting-edge steels and tube designs to create a hyperloop – a tube big enough to carry a passenger or freight pod able to travel at more than 1,000km/hr while using very little energy.

Steel is an essential material in building the infrastructure needed for the hyperloop, including the tubes through which it would travel. The giant steel tubes required for the hyperloop have numerous unique features compared with normal tubes. For instance, they need to allow the passenger or freight vehicle inside to travel in a low-pressure environment – where air is removed to reduce resistance and minimise energy usage – as well as retaining straightness over long distances.

Two well-known hyperloop projects are those being developed in Europe by Hardt Hyperloop and in the US by Virgin. There are currently in excess of 10 hyperloop projects globally all of which could use the technologies being developed by Tata Steel and POSCO.

Tata Steel and POSCO will develop high quality steel grades which are tailored for use in these large diameter tubes – up to 3.5m. Additionally, the companies will join their efforts in research on innovative tube concepts and designs.

Ernst Hoogenes, chief technical officer at Tata Steel, commented: “Globally, hyperloops hold a lot of potential for the future of high-speed sustainable transport and these are very exciting projects. This is an important part of our ambitions towards decarbonisation.

“We are delighted to join forces with POSCO. Pooling our joint technical expertise will enable us to scale up our innovation efforts and give our customers the cutting-edge products they need to be successful.”

Dr Lee, Duk-Lak, head of technical research laboratories at POSCO said: “POSCO has been conducting hyperloop-related research such as feasibility, design and structural optimisation of various types of steel tubes for more than 10 years, and has developed optimal steel materials and design solutions in terms of structural stability and economic efficiency. This will contribute to realising hyperloop as the future eco-friendly transportation method."

According to Tata Steel Europe, as society opts for low carbon cars and contemplates mass transport options such as the radical hyperloop, steel will continue to play a major role in ensuring the mobility choices of the future are safe, affordable and sustainable.