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D

(1)

...plans to build a zeppelin that does not have any of those advantages. His Aeromodeller II...

"advantages" should be "disadvantages".

Reto

(2)

Another fantastic article! The drawings seem to come right out of a futuristic alternative world comic which I do like so much.

kdd

(3)

Thanks! corrected.

Elwood

(4)

If it never lands, how do you get off?

kdd

(5)

Eventually you die and go to heaven.

Nebris

(6)

Great article. One nitpick: someone forgot to put the URL in the 'href' of the first image.

ikkonoishi

(7)

I don't see any lightning rods on their. Considering the anchors this thing would be a big target in a storm.

James

(8)

The aeromodeller's advantages are that it doesn't need to land, it refuels itself, and is self-regenerating. These are advantages from the classic zepplin model in the fact that Hydrogen is a superior lifting gas, and is far more abundant than helium, and with a Nitrogen buffer between the Hydrogen and the Air outside, the chance of the Hydrogen becoming flamable is significantly decreased. With the use of Hydrogen, the baseship can be smaller yet lift bigger loads.

charles

(9)

Elwood has good point. Where is the "dingy" for this "yacht". It seems your investing more time designing the mote than the drawbridge.

Mathew

(10)

Hydrogen is only marginally superior as a lifting gas- you get an extra 5lbs of displacement per 1000cu ft.
That said, the dangers of hydrogen are not nearly as bad as commonly assumed. Fatalities in observational balloons were low during WW1, even though pilots were floating in hydrogen balloons and being shot at with incendiary rounds. Its surprisingly hard to light a hydrogen balloon on fire.

Bonzi

(11)

While I would not feel very comfortable close to large amounts of hydrogen held by thermoplastic foil (or inside a composite high-pressure tank, for that matter), it seems to be true that Hindenburg catastrophe had little to do with its choice of buoyancy gas: fire was stated by sparks generated by static electricity (the ship was not properly grounded before being allowed to touch the mooring mast) seting fire to resin coating the envelope, not any leaking hydrogen.

calico

(12)

You cannot make a hydrogen-bag airship and not have a fire risk! The "hydrogen" under development cars carry far smaller amounts of H, in high pressure steel canisters with a matrix inside. No way am I getting inside a hydrogen balloon!

"The Aeromodeller has a wide frame which absorbs these bending forces. "
Zeppelins such as the Hindenburg, DO have a support frame under the canvas cover.

Psychadelio

(13)

Looks like a joint.

kdd

(14)

Do not light it !

Sumar

(15)

You could also collect energy via ionospheric resonance, solar power or dedicated "refueling stations" which would appear as tall rods. Even just using solar (I did the surface area calculation according to the 1.7m human in your drawing) you could extend the runtime of your vehicle anywhere from two to five times (depending on future solar cell development)
Your trip would still be limited by how much food and water you can carry, perhaps some sort of collection mechanism for rainwater as well as fishing equipment?

I'm worried about the shape though, this is pretty radical for a zeppelin. Are you sure it stands up to scrutiny?

Overall a visionary design

me

(16)

Elwood, it can land, but the point is that it doesnt have to.

also, couldnt you use some sort of vacuum and hover over a body of water, and suck up water through a hose, rather than wait for a rainstorm, which, to me seems a bit dangerous.

also, 6 hours of refueling for 1 hour of flight isn't very efficient, even if it does generate its own fuel.

me

(17)

oooh, you could also have like a treadmill onboard, to exercise, since your not able to walk very far, that would be a good help. dual purpose of that would be to rig it to generate electricity.

me

(18)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroponics

theres your solution to food! hydroponics!! lol

plants CAN be grown in water without soil.

Dr Evil

(19)

As this thing is supposed to fly above the clouds you'll have a hard time capturing a rainstorm. If you want to do that you'll have a hell of a bumpy ride.
On the drawing at the beginning of the article there is the following to read:
"Planes need a pressurised cockpit, balloons don't! Get a good scarf!"
Actually you do need a pressurised cockpit in a balloon, our at least some kind of oxygen mask. You need one once you start to camp at higher altitude for a longer time even when mountaineering, And if you want to camp in the sky these are the altitudes where you will reside.
I'm not going to talk about the capital error about the Zeppelins keeping form trough over pressure, someone else already did.
As Reto said before:"Another fantastic article! The drawings seem to come right out of a futuristic alternative world comic..."
That's exactly what it is; the fantastic 30's - 40's comics fuelled idea! Just add some kind of Dr Evil or Professor X and the story is complete.
The whole thing is pathetic!

solar power

(20)

the way its operation is explained is like hearing it from a 3 year olds imagination, im not going to bother posting the nails in the coffins. if your going to show me a concept, SHOW ME ONE THAT CAN ACTUALLY WORK IN THE REAL WORLD. really idealistic though

16yearoldscientist&artist

(21)

Go for it! Flying was impossible before the first airballoon and airplanes took off and look now?! It is 'normal' and a billion dollar industry. If some large companies would research anything that hasn't researched enough yet for 10-20yrs it will become 'normal' too. Its the public mind/vision not the technolgy that is the barrier, just take a close look at our species history...

Beers

(22)

first of all, things break down and wear out and im sure this will break down and ect all of the time. it would be a complete waist of money to ride arround the world little none to find the parts to fix it. What happens if you get a spot on it from the sun and that spot eventually wears into a hole, how do u propose to fix that? all in all its just a big waist of time money and effort.

Bernd

(23)

@22

It's waste, not waist.
Things breaking is not an argument, everything will eventually break.
The article states clearly, that these ships are built for ease of building and the use of abundant resources.
So maintenance should be relatively trivial.

Cars are an even bigger waste of time, effort and money, but everyone wants two.

Peter

(24)

Has the designer considered buoyancy control as hydrogen is produced and consumed? Looks to me like ballast would need to be taken on during charging and let out as hydrogen is burned.

jamesskaar

(25)

i was thinking of something like this a long time ago, my idea was to have a light steel frame, like wire hoops, cables attaching them to a hoop on the outside of plastic mesh sheets. the hydrogen bags would have been plastic tubes, mesh bulkheads would be used in case some of the lift cells had to be deflated for maintenance, easy to get, easy to recycle, uncut heavy duty garbage bags. they'd look a lot like intestines... they'd be melted closed at the ends, have a bung and tubing on an end, some tabs glued on, in case the shell ripped, they wouldn't get lost, though they'd look like a tentacled horror while returning to ground for repairs.
an oblong hoop and cables down the middle to set the overall shape, with mesh there, so cells could be worked on each side. the inner frame could be any shape, and relatively easy to attach the 'home' to.
i probably would have used very light nylon mesh or kevlar over the whole thing, inflated and sprayed from the inside with epoxy to harden it into aerodynamic shape, before the lift cells and inner mesh was put in. being aerodynamic would at least mean the engines wouldn't have to work as hard to overcome a wind... the idea of a nitrogen buffer is good, the outer shell could be filled with it, and oxygen concentrators/nitrogen extractors can use non-clumping kitty litter as a molecular sieve, at a low enough pressure that building it from cheap pvc pipe is an attractive prospect, would also work to keep the air inside fresh, it could also be charged by foot pump, in electrical emergencies.

paul lunemann

(26)

Has a prototype been built yet?

LR

(27)

I don't know if the scenario given is feasible or not, but this is a terrible shape for such a creation. It's well known that, if you're striving for the least drag for a given volume, the larger that volume, the stubbier the best shape is. That's good, because a stubbier shape can also be much LIGHTER for the volume and/or much stronger. That reduces material required to build it, the amount of hydrogen to fill it, the power required to make it go, and therefore the total cost. See the URL below for a paper about optimal shapes for airships. The one shown here is probably about right for something 5 or 10 feet long, or perhaps even less.

The advantage of lower structural weight is very important. If this source is to be believed, the Hindnburg had about 7 million cubic feet of volume. Using hydrogen for buoyancy, that translates to about 500,000 lbs of weight, not counting the weight of the hydrogen. Yet the useful load is listed as only 22,000 lbs! That leaves something like 480,000 lbs of structure, engines, and material to enclose the gas. Anything that reduces the amount of structure, enclosure, and power required (see paper below) will make the airship much smaller and cheaper. For instance, if you go to a shape that's 2 1/2 times as long as the diameter,and I've done my calculations right, for a given volume the exterior envelope will have only about 60 percent as much area. Savings in structural weight will be even greater, at least proportionally. As per the paper, drag will be much lower.

Drag is very important, because in order to survive, this airship will need to outrun the weather. (It will also have to stay out of places where thunderstorms build up quickly.) Lower drag also means lower mooring forces. It also means that, if you keep your recharging turbines close to the hull, they can be smaller on the fatter hull, because the air is accelerated more to get around it. If we're go 50 mph, I think the Reynolds number on the optimized shape is going to be around 1.1 x 10^7. See figure 9 in the paper. Perhaps an even stubbier shape may be optimal if we use the propulsion to control the boundary layer and pressure recovery as seen in the papers of Goldschmeid**.(I sdmit I find those papers heavy sledding.

As far as using overpressure structurally, how can you resist a structural element that is lighter than air? You wouldn't necessarily have to pressurize the whole envelope. It might make more sense to use tubes at several atmospheres of pressure as large beams. A further advantage is that if you really can't outrun a storm, you can land and deflate. Expensive to refill, but not as bad as losing the airship and maybe your life.

I'd like to see a more technically correct evaluation of the scenario. Maybe there's something that would work. Whether it would fit in with culture, politics, and regulation is another question entirely.


* http://www.iag.uni-stuttgart.de/IAG/institut/abteilungen/luftfahrzeugaerodynamik/paper/sanfrancisco_6_97_lutz.pdf

** http://cafefoundation.org/v2/tech_enablingtech_dragreduction.php

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