Blimps to Replace Aircraft for Freight

I love airships. They’re kind of steam-punk, but can boast the latest in high tech convenience and comfort. They’re already in the air, and don’t require enormous volumes of oil just to get air-born. They’re magnificent, huge beasts that can glide through the sky fairly quietly, considering their size. They’re a possible replacement for oil driven flight if we can’t scale up the alternatives such as nuclear-synthesised synfuel. And they’re cool.

“A recent report on mobility by the Smith School, for example, quoted an estimate by one developer, UK-owned SkyCat, that it could carry twice the weight of strawberries from Spain to the UK of a standard cargo plane, with a 90 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, much of which is from avoiding the huge fuel burn a jet engine uses to take off.”

via Blimps to Replace Aircraft for Freight Transport (at least) in Near Future, Leading Scientist Says: Scientific American.

I guess I would first question why the strawberries have to move from Spain to England, considering we could easily grow the strawberries in England in climate controlled greenhouses. But you can see the point. Double the carrying weight: 90% less greenhouse emissions.

How comfortable could these be to travel in? Think of them as the ocean liners of the skies.

As Dezeen put it:

A new paradigm in air transport is born with the advent of the Aeroscraft – an aircraft that utilizes adjustable buoyant and dynamic lift, creating unique capabilities beyond what is available from any other air platform today.

The Aeroscraft is designed and built on the basis of a new concept in flight. This remarkable idea grew out of the belief that there is a more comfortable way to fly than simply applying a luxury upgrade to an existing airframe and re-naming it.

The capabilities of the Aeroscraft lead to its unique functionality. Use the Aeroscraft as a private sky yacht, traveling beyond the ocean, or as a fully functional business office and conference center. The luxury appointment options are endless, limited only by your imagination. The Aeros design team will help translate your dreams into an airborne reality.

A quick browse through google images and one can see that blimps inspire all manner of creative, and sometimes downright crazy, brainstorming! But crazy is good. We live in a world with crazy problems, and so the occasional crazy sounding solution is entirely appropriate.

Check out some solar-powered blimps. I’m big on nuclear power. Yet as long as solar PV can be produced cheaply enough and is not being relied on for city base-load power, then I’m all for it! Until a revolutionary (read: Magical!) battery is invented, Solar PV can only be a niche energy provider.

But the enormous backsides of these behemoths makes for a BIG niche!

Spanish company Turtle Airships plans to build the airship below, which is a solar-powered blimp that can also rest on land and water! No more disaster’s at sea: if this thing gets into trouble it can gently float down and become a boat! This really is an ocean liner that flies. 😉

Or check this beast out: a high flying military battlefield scanner!

As Inhabitat says:

According to its creators at MITRE, the blimp can move at 60 knots during sustained trips and 100 knots during a sprint–so ISIS can make it to anywhere on Earth within 10 days of launch. Flying over six miles in the air, ISIS is able to avoid both ground-based missiles and air-to-air missiles.

So will we be flying around in speedy solar-powered blimps sometime soon? Probably not. The Air Force and DARPA won’t have a prototype of ISIS ready until 2013, and consumer applications won’t come until much later. But eventually, the technology could change the way we use solar power for transportation.

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