"My design can be less expensive and more efficient than current train technology that's out there already."

By Cailey Rizzo
November 01, 2019

Listen up, Elon Musk: a 13-year-old scientist may have figured out a better, faster and more cost-efficient transport system than the Hyperloop.

Caroline Crouchley, a 13-year-old from Garden City, New York, decided to focus on transportation for her entry into the 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Her reasoning? “If we can make trains more efficient, then we can eliminate the amount of cars, trucks and buses on the road,” she told CNN.

Caroline Crouchley presenting at The 3M Young Scientist Challenge
Credit: Courtesy of 3M Young Scientist Challenge

In Crouchley’s research process, she looked into the mechanics of Hyperloop and Maglev trains. Her idea was to build pneumatic tubes next to existing train tracks, which would make high-speed travel cheaper. Although the trains would not be capable of going as fast as the proposed Hyperloop (which is expected to reach speeds up to 700 miles per hour), Crouchley’s train would travel about twice as fast as current U.S. trains, according to Fast Company.

"My design can be less expensive and more efficient than current train technology that's out there already,” Crouchley told CNN. “It's also safer than Hyperloop. My design can rely on 100% renewable energy, so it eliminates the need for a diesel engine or an electric motor, which makes the train lighter, so it can move faster."

Elon Musk proposed the Hyperloop in 2012, but it has yet to be executed.

In 2018, The BBC reported that student tests of the track last year reached a top speed of 290 miles per hour. India is expected to have the first completed Hyperloop project in 2029 between Mumbai and Prune. The technology would cut travel time down from a few hours to only 30 minutes.

Crouchley said her next step is building a bigger model of her train concept to begin testing.

Her design was awarded second place in the Young Scientist Challenge. First place went to 14-year-old Kara Fan who invented a liquid band-aid, designed to reduce superbug infections.