The transport internet – really fast food


 Submission for the 2nd round of

The St. Andrews Prize for the Environment.




4 Slides

St Andrews Prize

8 Slides

Croydon Urban & Rural            

41 Slides

March 08   Texas Conference 

EC R&D  proposal          JUN 07

State of the Art 

Proposal Summary


Project Team

What-If?  Interactive Financials

Statistics & Basic Calculations

Targets Calculation


St Andrews Prize Summary

Home Page



The main objectives:


1.  To design a new local & global eco-transport infrastructure.


2. To use lightweight pipeline-capsules to transport food.


3. To reduce incremental CO2 by 18% (1/6th) annually.


4. In the UK alone, to save 17 billion litres of diesel per year.


FOODTUBES can be built and operated profitably in 100klm sections.


It may be too late to save the ice-caps.

Preventing runaway-global-heating requires major infrastructure changes.


Foodtubes is invited in 2008 to present commercial transport applications, to:


Transport for LondonLondon Freight Plan


The City of Buenos Aries, Ministry of Works.


Capsule-Pipeline Symposium, University of Texas.



Funding:- To date, FOODTUBES has been financed by the project’s inventor & coordinator, with valued information and technical support from team members.



The team includes experts and executives from: 


Stoner Software, ADVANTICA (British Gas); PIAP – Industrial Research Institute for Automation & Measurement; FUE - Fundacion Universidad-Empresa de Madrid; Clarendon Laboratories, Oxford; Imperial College London; Warsaw  University of Technology; The Freight Pipeline Company, USA; Pneutrans Systems Limited, Canada; Force Engineering Limited, UK; and from UK SME’s, SW2000 Intelligent Transport; and  Swift Software.



21 January 2008.






The immediate objective of the FOODTUBES project team is to design and create global engineering & IT standards and a business plan for the building and profitable operation of CO2 saving, lightweight-capsule-pipeline-freight-transport, suitable for transporting food and other supermarket goods. For example, 1 metre diameter polyethylene underground pipes will be conduits for 2 metre long, carbon fibre freight-capsules; the UK would need 3 million such capsules to replace most food transport HGV’s and trains. These designs are credited to the innovators, administered by The Foodtubes Global Standards Agency (FGOSA), organised by The University of Madrid; which will ensure interactivity of all FOODTUBES systems. The FOODTUBES team will also encourage governments and entrepreneurs to operate long or short Foodtubes systems, for private profits or public service.






25% of freight traffic carries food – every day.  Which costs more to move; 300 kilograms of boxed Cornflakes or a 40 tonne, six-axle, tractor, trailer, fuel tank and lorry driver?  


Calculations, Logic and Outline:


Global savings of up to 18% of the annual CO2 increment, and fuel, wages, other savings, and traffic decongestion improvements could be achieved, with faster deliveries, if the food industry used a national, and in due course an international, food pipeline system. If most food-road transport was replaced by food-pipelines, the UK could save billions of litres of fuel a year, at Ł1 per litre – preserve the countryside, greatly reduce street-level pollution and global warming gases, and free-up congested roads. 


Summary Targets:


Society continually transports water, fuel, food and people. The heaviest of these cargos, but the least expensive to transport, is water - transported in pipelines. Only 8% of the fuel for food transport moves the weight of the food – 92% is used to move the weight of the vehicles.


Foodtubes will be powered by electrical induction (LIMs), and pneumatically, with cargos in electronically addressed, high speed (e.g. 100 KPH), lightweight capsules. Like the telephone system, FOODTUBES will have its own, sustainable, dedicated power-sources. The capsules will be computer controlled.


The pipeline building costs will be more than recouped through reduced road building and maintenance. Like water, gas and oil pipes, food-tubes can be buried for long distances and take shorter routes to distribution hubs or customers’ “terminals”. 


Business-forecasts indicate that Foodtubes will be a highly profitable system – giving the food industry control over its own regional, national and international distribution system.  FoodTubes will become the most effective way to move food from region to region, addressing issues including Food-Miles, Food-Mountains, Bio-Diversity, Disaster Relief, Farming-Cooperatives, Global-Warming, Street-Level-Pollution and Global-Free-Trade.  Eight global projects of this scale would start to reverse global-warming.


FOODTUBES has recruited 20 world class engineers, physicists and executives from various countries to specify the system, to be modelled and demonstrated by a major, international pipeline owner.




Transport by road, rail and other modes contributes a large proportion of global warming gases and other pollution. The current Californian lawsuit against the EPA and the Bush administration, demanding larger cuts in pollution, cites “vehicles” as producing 40% of California’s air pollution (Guardian 4 Jan 08). FOODTUBES sees little merit in replacing diesel with bio-fuels, which create similar pollutants and, in a hungry world, gobble up productive land or vegetation-carbon-sinks. The traditional design of vehicles, carrying their own fuel tanks, engines and drive-trains, lending an illusion of individual independence, needs to change. The engineering principles are to make MWV’s – Minimum Weight Vehicles – with the smallest possible vehicle weight/ passenger/ cargo/ ratio, and to power the MWV’s with sustainable, clean energy – most probably, in the UK with electricity from tidal power and in California (and Germany) from solar power.


To transport the volume of all UK food requires up to 20,000 kilometres of 1 metre diameter pipes and 3.5 million capsules, saving 4.8 billion litres of road fuel, - 46.5 million tonnes of CO2 – every year.


To put the proposed UK pipeline network in scale, the Russian oil and gas supplier Gazprom, owns and maintains some 250,000 kilometres of pipes.


FOODTUBES can start with short runs of pipes, built and operated under a global standards agency. It would be feasible for example to link a food centre, like Banbury, to many supermarkets (“terminals”) via a 150 kilometre pipe.




2. The FOODTUBES 20 person Team.


See photographs and CVs at

Project Team: 


We have scientists and experts from various regions including - North America; USA and Canada - South America; Argentina, - Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, and the UK. Two major cities will consider in 2008 how FOODTUBES might be implemented – London (Transport for London) and Buenos Aries (Ministry of Public Works). FOODTUBES is working to increase cooperation between the cities via the UK Foreign Office and the UK’s former Ambassador to Argentina.  


The FOODTUBES Team needs to be multi-disciplined to tackle the design issues – and the Team members may change through the course of the project.  Their contributions are recognised in Intellectual Property Rights credits.


3. The direct and indirect beneficiaries of FOODTUBES


FOODTUBES will reduce global warming – by stopping up to 18% or 1/6th of the CO2 added annually to the atmosphere. As such, most of the planet’s population will benefit.


New Jobs: The changes are evolutionary. While FOODTUBES heralds reductions in the journeys of lorries, vans and trains – and a reduction of food-freight drivers – their jobs will be more than replaced, first by installing the pipeline systems, and second with permanent jobs for systems managers. There will be a major, high tech, export, manufacturing industry created to make, lay and maintain pipes, capsules, monitoring, power and control systems.


Locally, with short pipeline networks, FOODTUBES will help to clean street level air and reduce local traffic jams – benefiting the community.  Local pipeline operating businesses will be created.


Regionally, e.g. across Scotland, FOODTUBES will save substantial transport costs for shops and suppliers – and these savings may be passed on to consumers.


Nationally, e.g. in the UK, very substantial transport costs will be saved, perhaps reducing the costs of supermarket goods by Ł4.8 billion per annum. Much of that fuel cost is government taxes, which the Exchequer would forfeit – but, e.g. FOODTUBES UK plc will pay €7.4 billion Euros tax per year. (See EXCEL UK forecasts).


Transborder - e.g. a UK network and a French network: Both countries will further benefit from rapid, cheap food transport and cross-border trade; benefiting both consumers and suppliers.


Trans-continentally - e.g. infrastructure in Europe and Africa linked by undersea pipes - the national savings will benefit the countries concerned and small farmers and suppliers will be helped by being able to transport their own produce, rapidly, into selected markets. Equally, surpluses that would otherwise go to waste will be transferred to areas where crops have failed; emergency relief and medicines will transported quickly at low cost.


Applied globally, FOODTUBES will achieve the targeted CO2 reductions of 1 billion to 4 billion tonnes per annum – and will greatly improve global trading.


4. Original features of the FOODTUBES project.


No lightweight-capsule-pipeline system exists or is proposed on this scale, for these applications, with such energy savings.


However, pipeline-capsule transport dates back 200 years or more. Most modern capsule-pipeline systems transport ore or coal, in iron capsules, on railways, through pipelines, propelled by pneumatics. Sumitomo Industries are a large supplier and user of such systems; New York ports authorities are building similar underground systems and Russia and Canada use capsule pipelines.


A small, familiar version is the pneumatic capsules once used in large department stores to ferry cash and invoices – again being installed in banks etc around the world.


State of the Art report:


When FOODTUBES files the practical designs, the system may be unique. The initial models will be computer simulations and the first UK real demonstrations are likely to be in London.


5. FOODTUBES will be offered to and is applicable to all regions around the world.


How this is being done is described in this text.


6. The business case is very strong.


FOODTUBES is analogous to the early days of the railway industry when the manufacturing countries exported equipment to many parts of the world before the systems were made locally. At the highly competitive price of, say, US$20 per cargo-capsule (40 capsules = 1 x 44 tonne truck) and with shorter journeys, convenient smaller cargos, and fast, secure deliveries – FOODTUBES will replace most other goods transport. The capital infrastructure and maintenance costs are less than comparable road, rail and air transport costs. Owning a FOODTUBES operating system will be very profitable – see the Project-Planning-Tool, where some 3.5 million capsules will be transmitted on most days of the year - US$70 million per day in revenues + other revenues such as capsule advertising.


Financial “What-If?” Project Plan:


7. Success to date.


We have recruited a world class team including Advantica (British Gas), leading academic physicists and experienced industry engineers; our Polish partners are confident of recruiting Gazprom if required. We have agreed the most likely prpulsion for FOODTUBES. We are invited to propose FOODTUBES as part of the new London Freight Plan and to make similar representations to the Ministry of Works, Buenos Aries.  We have created a “What-If?” Project Planning Tool.  We have written a generic application for EC funding. We will present FOODTUBES to a symposium at the University of Texas, in March 08.


EC Research Proposal:

Pipeline Symposium Texas:


8. Applying the US$50,000 prize:


To date, FOODTUBES has been supported solely by its inventor & coordinator, Noel Hodson, SW2000 Intelligent Transport, with valued time and expertise from team members. The prize will support the secretariat in Oxford, build a dedicated website, pay for communications and, most importantly, will enable continued promotion to Governments, Pipeline Corporations, Financiers, City Planners, Industry, Virgin Earth Challenge ($25M Prize) and Stop-Global-Warming Agencies.  We shall apply for R&D funding (of about US$2m); and apply to financiers, governments and industry for capital for the first working Demonstration Project (say, 150 klm of pipes serving Edinburgh and Glasgow).  We will continue to debate and solve the key technical questions. The St Andrews Prize money will make this project happen – and help to clear Scotland’s roads and rails.



Contact: Noel Hodson –   Tel 00 44 (0)1865 760994







It may be too late to save the ice-caps.

Preventing runaway-global-heating

requires major infrastructure changes.