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Are Airships Efficient Enough for EcoGeeks?

At EcoGeek, we are big fans of airships. A recent article at Txchnologist asks whether airships are poised to make a comeback in the commercial sector, but other recent articles question whether they truly make sense. Are airships a realistic possibility?

Writing a commentary about his own article, author John Rennie asks if airships really offer the benefits we like to think they do. Another recent Scientific American blog post is even more critical of the idea of airships for transport.

One of the eternal tradeoffs in transportation is the time versus energy cost consideration. On one hand, there is the cost of energy to move goods from point A to point B. Faster takes more energy, and is buy online prescription levitra therefore more expensive. On the other hand, the time for a pilot or driver or other person to convey the goods has to be paid for, and a longer trip means more expense. The trick is to find the buy online viagra where balance point between the two. This is, at least to some extent, what has driven the avaition industry away from propeller aircraft to the use of jets.

Trains are very efficient for moving heavy cargo, but train tracks don't go everywhere. A hybrid train and how to buy viagra online airship network might be useful to extend the reach of the current rail network without the expensive and difficult process of laying lots of new track. Trucks serve as the spokes for these networks right now. They are more expensive at moving freight than trains, but also more flexible. Is there room for that in the current transportation network? That seems to be one of the crucial questions. And, for now, the premium for trucks is not so high that other options are being sought.

The Scientific American article particularly focuses on speed versus cost as a tradeoff, but those are not the viagra order canada only factors that are relevant in considering airship, so the many current military developments are overlooked. Most present military uses under development are for long duration missions, where the simple lift of cialis available in india the airship makes it far more economical to operate than having conventional fixed-wing aircraft.

It may be many years before old, used military airships begin to be adapted for civilian uses, but we remain optimistic that airships will become a useful contributor to part of the transportation infrastructure of the future.

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Comments (9)Add Comment
I can't see it
written by Kurdt, July 27, 2011
Sure airships have a whole host of romantic images associated with them, but they have a lot of practical, everyday issues.

Transportation: why take an overnight balloon trip when you can get there in a jet in 1/4 the time, then sleep in a real hotel? And what is it going to where can i buy cialis do the rest of the day?

Freight: Usually measured in tonnage - requires an incredible volume to make a single shipping container lighter than air.

Things they might work for: entertainment (like sunset balloon rides, mild rides at the fair, etc), advertising (Goodyear blimp), disaster relief (mobile cell tower). Basically where the novelty of the form factor is a big part of the reason for using it. I don't think most of viagra brand name us will ever encounter blimps in our everyday lives.
Not as unrealistic as you might think.
written by J. James, July 27, 2011
Airships do edge out heavy transport helicopters, though. They fly at similar speeds, but are much cheaper, more efficient, longer ranged and can lift 10-20 times as much.

Other applications you didn't mention are humanitarian aid, firefighting(that's a big one), cruise liners, and don't be so quick to discount them for cargo. Due to the square-cube law, a 250-foot airship can carry 20 tons(equivalent to a Hercules cargo plane) of cargo, a 350-foot airship can carry 50 tons, and a 600 foot airship can carry 200 tons. That's still 200 feet shorter than the Hindenburg, mind.
written by P Proefrock, July 28, 2011
See also Maggie Koerth-Baker's recent article on airships from BoingBoing:
Dirigibles are the future
written by Sunil, July 28, 2011
Given a suitably sized dirigible, it would be possible to carry vast numbers of people silently and safely through the skies. Using solar collectors, it should be possible to drive the propellers using steam generated from the solar collectors during daylight hours and switch over to diesel or coal power at night.

There is a shortage of Helium which will limit the number of Helium dirigibles that can be commissioned world wide. Of course it would be possible to use Hydrogen if supplies of He are used up. Non flammable isotopes of hydrogen are very expensive to the best place cialis sales uk make at present, so this problem will need to be solved.

I can see no reason why dirigibles could not be connected together in tandem much like railway carriages and trucks are connected today. They would be an excellent way to transport freight across national borders without the necessity of unloading ships and reloading the cargo onto trains and generic form of viagra trucks.
Hybrid Air Vehicles
written by James Bond, July 28, 2011
The biggest advantage of need viagra modern hybrid air vehicles, is not their low fuel burn green factor, but the fact that they do not need airports for long range cargo or medium range heavy lift operations. They use a hoverskirt for an undercart and their flying wing shape can allow them to take off heavy enough to solve the weight change from fuel burn issue, so they do not need to valve off Helium.
If you want a Helium sniffing laugh try my Gasbags site for the worlds only lighter than air comedy web site.
written by Joel Couch, July 28, 2011
Hydrogen can be used for lift if the craft are unmanned. We have drone technology now for control of aircraft. Perhaps even robotic piloting is workable now for such slow-moving craft.

If the route of the airships follows the pattern of prevailing winds, then the energy cost must be recalculated. Let the wind do most of the work.

Using airships to transport natural gas from central Asian gas fields to China, Japan and Korea makes sense because they could exploit the prevailing winds. The gas itself could provide any necessary motive power. Hydrogen itself could be the payload to canadian tramadol no prescription bring energy from some renewable energy source such as West Texas wind farms to the Gulf Coast and Florida.
Most overlooked use...
written by Chad Kraeft, July 28, 2011
Housing. Airships could provide an eco friendly solution to housing, and a more financially sustainable one. An airship home wouldn't have real estate tax or require roads. A whole aerial gypsy generation could take to the skies, live a life of travel, and seriously reduce their environmental impact. With a little ingenuity, an airship could even be used to grow food.

Whether they make viable replacements for mass transit or commercial transportation won't impact the buy levitra in europe capacity for airships to provide the new housing frontier.
written by 9a3, July 28, 2011
I'd love travel on a safe Zeppelin made of modern materials and filled with non-flammable helium [or lighter than air vacuum]. The thought is the best choice buy levitra online us far more appealing than heavier than air travel and would surely be more efficient than oceanliners.

Lakehurst – Friedrichshafen
August 7, 1929 – August 10, 1929
7,068 km / 55 hrs 22 mins
It requires a mindset
written by Echelon, August 09, 2011
I can definitely see airships making a return, however, they'll require a shift in mindset. It is true that in our current world of crammed jets, speed is king. However, airships can actually benefit from the slow boat to China model, offering much more comfort and amenities than a plane ever could.

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