The St Andrews Prize for the Environment

University of St Andrews


2008 Finalist

The FOODTUBES project

The FOODTUBES project

The transport internet – really fast food

“By stopping up to 18% of the carbon dioxide added annually to the atmosphere, FOODTUBES™ will substantially reduce global warming and benefit the majority of the world’s population,” says programme inventor and co-ordinator, Noel Hodson.

Still at the concept stage, the aim of the FOODTUBES™ project is to design and build an energy saving pipeline capsule goods transportation system.

At present 92% of the energy used to transport food and other supermarket goods is spent on moving the vehicles with only 8% used to move the goods. The FOODTUBES project aims to replace heavy goods vehicles with lightweight carbon fibre freight cargo capsules, each two metres in length, running in underground pipelines, and directly linking food processing and production centres with shop loading bays. The total volume of food transported in the UK in a year could be accommodated in a FOODTUBES system consisting of 20,000 kilometres of one metre diameter pipeline and 3.5 million food transportation capsules. 

The replacement of food road transport with food pipelines in the UK could save billions of litres of fuel per year, preserve the countryside, reduce street level pollution and global warming gases, and free up congested roads.

FOODTUBES will have its own sustainable and dedicated power sources and the capsules will be computer controlled. Pipeline building costs will be more than recouped through reduced road building and maintenance as tubes can be buried for long distances and take shorter and more direct routes to distribution hubs and customers’ terminals.

Already in 2008, the FOODTUBES team, comprising 20 world class scientists and engineers, has been invited to present commercial transport applications for London, Buenos Aries and the University of Texas. 

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