Dutch company Hardt Hyperloop has been awarded €15m (£12.7m) to help it and its public and private partners to accelerate the development of the high-speed transport technology. As well as BAM, Haart Hyperloop’s other early partners include Dutch Railways, Royal Schiphol Group and steel company Tata Steel. Schiphol Airport announced an expansion of its hyperloop plans last year.
Hyperloop vehicles are designed to move autonomously through low-pressure tubes, powered by an entirely electromagnetic propulsion system, making the travel energy-efficient and CO2-neutral. The plan is for the technology to transport both people and goods at high speed. A number of teams around the world are developing the technology.
It is the first time that a hyperloop company has received such financial support from Brussels. The EIC Accelerator funds were awarded by the European Innovation Council.
Tim Houter, co-founder of Hardt Hyperloop, said that the investment is a validation of the plans. “It's great to have now gained the trust of the European Commission. Their support will help to accelerate the development of a European hyperloop network, bringing us much closer to significant CO2 savings. European cities will be connected smarter, faster and cheaper.”
The investment is seen as fitting well with the European Green Deal, which includes hyperloop in the European Commission's strategy for sustainable and smart mobility. The granting of funding will give the current developments of the hyperloop and the Hardt’s European Hyperloop Centre in Groningen a significant boost, added Houter. “The support from the EU is a major breakthrough,” he said. “Now that Brussels is also on board, there is support at all levels, regional, national and continental.”
The team said that support from the Dutch government, the Province & Municipality of Groningen and partners such as Dutch Railways, Royal Schiphol Group, Tata Steel and Royal BAM Group has been important in gaining recognition from Brussels.
Hardt Hyperloop is working with public and private partners in the Hyperloop Development Program (HDP) on tasks including integration of hyperloop alongside cars, trains and planes, the drawing-up of promising hyperloop routes and the demonstration of the technology in the European Hyperloop Centre. Investors involved from the start include UNIIQ, TU Delft, EIT InnoEnergy and Koolen Industries.
The European Hyperloop Center is being developed in close collaboration with the Province and Municipality of Groningen and is seen as pivotal because it is intended to demonstrate lane-switching for high-speed hyperloop by 2023. Lane-switching is the key to a hyperloop network that can offer direct journeys without the need for intermediate stops. Groningen competed with Zeeland to host the test centre.
A pilot project involving freight transport between the busiest freight hubs in the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, is being investigated by companies, governments and network organisations. Houter said: “A great next step after the European Hyperloop Center would be to establish a first route in the Netherlands within this decade. If this route is realised in the Netherlands, we will be on track to achieving a broad European hyperloop network that can save 160 megatonnes of CO2 on an annual basis, more than the entire CO2 emissions of the Netherlands.”