Incorporating solar power onto airships is not an entirely new idea, but we continue to find interesting developments of the concept. The latest is the Solar Ship,a hybrid aircraft that merges buoyant lifting and aerodynamics as well as thin-film solar panels. The combination makes for a long-range vessel that is able to take-off and land on very short airfields.
Earlier studies have been critical of the efficiency of airships, finding that trucks offer a lower overall cost in time and energy. But that presupposes the existence of a network of available roads. While developed areas may be more readily served by trucks, they are less than ideal for many other parts of the world.
The Solar Ship concept was specifically developed for use in areas without a network of roads available. The two areas being focused on at present are to provide medical services in remote areas and to provide cargo transport alternatives to the "ice roads" presently used to move supplies in the high Arctic.
"Solar Ship blends the technologies of aerodynamic lift, aerostatic lift, and solar cells to create a cost efficient, long range, energy efficient cargo carrier for areas with minimal or unreliable infrastructure."
As a heavier-than-air craft, the Solar Ship does not need to have a ground crew to help support the craft at each destination point. The buoyant assitance of helium gives the craft enough help that it is able to use a soccer field as its airstrip. A solar powered Solar Ship will have unlimited effective range, while the hybrid version increases the cargo capacity while still providing great range.
written by electronics recycling, February 07, 2012
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