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Caravans of airships riding jetstreams for freight?

The low carbon idea is a frivolous fashion, but could airships take some freight from container ships? Seems unlikely but there are visions here of giant caravans of airships lifting into jetstreams and travelling perpetually eastwards. And there are already models competing for start up funds.

Airships use a lot less fuel than jets do, but a lot more helium, which is a point that gets a mention, but not much of an answer.

How airships could provide the future of green transport

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph

A Boeing 747 requires at least 70 tonnes of aviation fuel to cross the Atlantic. Mr Handley says his ARH 50 model has the same cargo payload but needs just five tonnes of fuel for the same journey, yet can still reach 300 km/h at high altitude.

Airships can land anywhere there is a flat space — they don’t need the runways and airports. They can get closer to their destination. Even landing on a river.

An academic paper from the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis In Austria proposes using the Jet Stream to transport cargo on transcontinental routes without any need for power beyond the initial lift and descent. The cargo ships would float on high winds above 40,000 feet at an average speed of 160 km/h, displacing fleets of container shipping at sea. The study claims that they would cut fuel use by 96pc.

The circular flow would always be from West to East – Shanghai to Los Angeles, New York to London, or Frankfurt to Mumbai – rotating in a perennial circuit. It would take eight days to cross half the world by the northern Jet Stream, and seven days by the southern route, beating maritime shipping on time as well as emissions.

These unmanned super-Hindenburgs controlled by artificial intelligence could be over a mile long, spectral airships passing far overhead in caravans along regulated bands near the troposphere, emitting no sound or CO2.

Read it all at The Telegraph

Is there enough helium in the world to sustain a big airship industry?

We know a low carbon fantasy (with subsidies) can support an uncompetitive industry for a long time.  But do airships make sense without the subsidy?

8.9 out of 10 based on 45 ratings

98 comments to Caravans of airships riding jetstreams for freight?

  • #
    Jojodogfacedboy

    If you add in the tanker cargo ships, then you would need thousands in the air at the same time.
    The current docks barely keep up with the container ships now each day.

    70

  • #
    Yonniestone

    Jet streams could be a thing of the past according to this article Carbon Brief https://www.carbonbrief.org/jet-stream-is-climate-change-causing-more-blocking-weather-events

    It goes into quite a bit of detail citing various sources, sorry don’t have time to look properly.

    50

    • #
      el gordo

      ‘ … blocking events were behind the record hot, dry weather that saw devastating bushfires during Australia’s 2019-20 summer,’

      We were told the fires had something to do with CO2, no mention of ‘blocking’ at the bushfire inquiry, but I’ll dig deeper.

      60

    • #
      el gordo

      ‘NASA says, as we enter the solar minimum, our wispy atmosphere shrinks. NASA has learned to juggle satellites that drop into lower orbits during the solar cycle. Lower down in our atmosphere the sun drives our winds and the most important winds of all, that rule all the others, are the jet streams that power around the planet at well over 160 kilometres an hour.

      ‘When the atmosphere contracts, the jets start to meander. The meandering happens because there is a space problem; the same jet stream is jammed into less volume within a shrunken atmosphere; hence the jet streams kink. The cloud levels are slightly but measurably lower as well.’

      Francis Manns (guest post wuwt 2018)

      50

    • #
      Curious George

      Is there a time table for jet streams? Would a delivery be guaranteed?

      80

  • #
    David Maddison

    Helium is a finite resource and should be saved for essential medical and scientific uses such as superconducting magnets.

    Hydrogen with safety measures should be used, perhaps with unmanned aircraft.

    This idea is not new but it should only operate in a free market, no taxpayer subsidies or legislation favouring airships over other transportation methods. If it can survive in a free market, why not? But it must be a truly free market.

    Emissions should not be a consideration as they are not a problem in the first place. CO2 is a recyclable by-product of combustion, plants turn it back into food and fuel.

    220

    • #
      GD

      Emissions should not be a consideration as they are not a problem in the first place. CO2 is a recyclable by-product of combustion, plants turn it back into food and fuel

      Amen to that.

      What a pity, what a shame it is that no-one in our parliament, other Craig Kelly and Matt Canavan understand this fact.

      Well said, David.

      220

    • #
      Bulldust

      A major problem with helium is that it escapes the Earth’s atmosphere over time. In that sense it truly is a finite resource, unlike metals which could be recycled forever. Helium is similar to energy fuels in that sense. If we generate helium from nuclear fusion one day that might change (no idea of teh relative amounts here), but in that scenario energy is no longer a problem anyway, so…

      50

  • #
    2dogs

    Is there enough helium in the world to sustain a big airship industry?

    We really can use hydrogen, and there is plenty of that. We shouldn’t let the Hindenburg disaster blind us to the advances made in the 8 decades since then, which can make it safe.

    60

  • #
    Richard Ilfeld

    Folks who think airships are easy never took the pilots test, or saw one trying to dock in a modest wind.
    Something big enough to have a decent load has a hell of a sail area. Close to the ground it is not a stately vision,
    in many conditions it can be is a dangerous careening major accident waiting to happen, especially when you think of the cargoes it might be laden with.
    Windmills are best used as backdrops for TV spots; blimps for futuristic articles in popular mechanics.

    280

    • #
      Time Soren

      Nailed it.
      Trouble and it can’t land and has to sail on, another lap around the world?
      Helium resources would be in dire straits just to replace one Emma Marsk.

      Experience says it is folly.
      Lastly when one storm drops 100 containers on a town
      Industry is dead.

      80

      • #
        Stanley

        Reporter’s by-line…..”Oh, the humanity” as in “It’s practically standing still now they’ve dropped ropes out of the nose of the ship; and (uh) they’ve been taken ahold of down on the field by a number of men. It’s starting to rain again; it’s… the rain had (uh) slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it (uh) just enough to keep it from…It’s burst into flames! Get this, Charlie; get this, Charlie! It’s fire… and it’s crashing! It’s crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It’s burning and bursting into flames and the… and it’s falling on the mooring mast and all the folks between it. This is terrible; this is one of the worst catastrophes in the world. Oh it’s… [unintelligible] its flames… Crashing, oh! oh, four or five hundred feet into the sky, and it’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. There’s smoke, and there’s flames, now, and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity, and all the passengers screaming around here! I told you; it – I can’t even talk to people, their friends are on there! Ah! It’s… it… it’s a… ah! I… I can’t talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honest: it’s just laying there, a mass of smoking wreckage. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and talk and the screaming. I… I… I’m sorry. Honest: I… I can hardly breathe. I… I’m going to step inside, where I cannot see it. Charlie, that’s terrible. Ah, ah… I can’t. Listen, folks; I… I’m gonna have to stop for a minute because I’ve lost my voice. This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed.” Transcript of Herbert Morrison.

        60

    • #
      RickWill

      The US military built an airship able to lift 10t. It had a “crash” landing in 2016 on its second flight shown here:
      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/24/worlds-biggest-aircraft-crashes-bedfordshire-airlander-10

      That resulted in the project being scrapped but the builders took it over as a prototype for commercial development. It did 67 flights in total before the airship was written off.

      Airships appear to do quite well once airborne; very serene. However they have great difficulty making landfall.

      There is a good reason for hot air balloons operating in Melbourne only over the dawn period on a calm day.

      The Airlander 10 had an airspeed of 50kts. So it could not make way against winds of 50kts. Safe windspeed for landing was probably less than 20kts.

      I have had some scary landings in conventional aircraft in crosswinds of about 30kts. The aircraft is skewed at about 20 degrees to the runway at the point of contact. The tail gets whiplashed when the aircraft immediately shift to align with the runway. Some good video here:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JARNXVXJ1Dk
      These aircraft have airspeed at least 10 times the windspeed and only require a few seconds to go from airborne to ground borne.

      Airships need to be tethered and can be floated to face into the wind for lift off but the wind at ground level is never steady in direction and speed. They take minutes to lift off and tether. A lot can happen in those minutes. I expect systems can be developed to overcome the tethering challenge but it has not yet been done very well. T his is a pilot’s perspective of the Goodyear Blimp:
      https://www.wired.com/2014/08/piloting-goodyear-blimp/

      Despite those slow speeds, blimps are notoriously difficult to fly. (And with less than 40 blimp pilots in the world, it’s one of the rarest jobs on the planet.) There is no “flying by the numbers,” no set altitudes, airspeeds or power settings. The ship is so impacted by air pockets, wind and weather that a pilot needs to adapt moment-by-moment, operating by sense and intuition. “It’s seat-of-the pants flying,” says instructor pilot Mike Dougherty. “It’s different every time. No two take offs and landings are the same.”

      100

    • #
      Hasbeen

      Quite a few of the larger experimental US air ships were torn apart in storms. The bigger they are the harder to build structural integrity into them.

      60

  • #
    PeterS

    Such a suggestion proves beyond any reasonable doubt the greens movement is now officially insane. Nuff said.

    120

  • #
    Zigmaster

    It would be far easier and cheaper to re-educate the population about the facts on climate change and not worry about changing things that work. There is this post Covid opportunity whilst Climate change has diminished as a concern in most countries rating near the bottom of the list.

    80

  • #
    David Maddison

    There were extensive safety measures on the Hindenburg. It was very likely destroyed due to sabotage or an unexpected chemical reaction in the paint on the fabric coating.

    Also, despite the severity of the disaster, there was a 64% survival rate, much better than many plane crashes. The airship didn’t fall out of the sky it settled relatively gently giving people a chance to escape.

    Total passengers 97, survived 62, died 35, survival rate 64%.

    As I said above, they could be used for freight but only in a totally free market or if Leftists want to pay extra for such services if they are more expensive than other methods.

    71

  • #
    David Maddison

    Do people understand the staggering size and low cost operation of modern cargo ships? There is no way an airship would be able to compete especially given the difficulty in takeoffs and landing in anything but perfect windless conditions. They won’t compete with ships on cost, they won’t compete with regular aircraft on speed. At best they would be of middle speed and middle cost between the two. Is there a market for that?

    And I’m not sure they would be cheaper than regular aircraft in any case. This whole idea was probably the basis of a “climate change” grant proposal. In any case, these things have been promoted by Popular Mechanics for decades, even before climate change became trendy.

    231

    • #
      It's all BS

      David, you have nailed it. You cannot replace shipping with aircraft, especially today. As someone who works in the maritime industry, ships carry more, further, cheaper. Air cannot support the load that water can. Sounds great on paper, but really is just “pie in the sky”!

      200

      • #
        el gordo

        Smaller airships carrying postal items and adventurous tourists might be profitable. Going back a century its the equivalent of a banana boat, but a lot quicker.

        43

      • #
        peter

        More like “crap in the sky”. Sounds like one of the dopey ideas Craig Ruecastle comes up with in his taxpayer funded, tragic TV doco “Fight for planet A” on ABC, Tuesday nights. People should note that the West-East travel direction only works well for Northern Hemisphere transport between cities of similar latitude. Most of the major cities of the northern hemisphere are on those latitudes. BUT Australia, NZ, South Africa, the rest of southern Africa, Brazil, Argentina, most of South America and Indonesia are in the Southern Hemisphere. Most of their export-transport is South-North into Europe, USA, Japan and China. So what you say? Well, most of the world’s export iron-ore, coal, wool, lamb, beef, hardwood-timber, gold, mineral sands and cane-sugar travels south to north.

        This airship idea is so bad, it’s almost certain to get government funding for it.

        90

  • #
    Travis T. Jones

    We could fill the skies and cover the sun, stopping doomsday global warming!

    Wait. It’s too late …

    24 Aug, 2020, Climate chaos: Extreme heat, wildfires and record-setting storms suggest a frightening future is already here

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-heat-wave-wildfires-hurricanes-derecho/

    Science.

    30

  • #
    David Maddison

    A solar powered airship would be good to float high in the atmosphere of Venus for years, making observations. The pressure is 1 bar at 50km.

    Or green vacations on earth, but preferably Venus, for rich Leftists.

    50

    • #
      Jojodogfacedboy

      Get the politicians going…they generate a great deal of hot air too.
      They deflate rather quickly as well.

      40

  • #
    Agammamon

    I would say the fact that no one uses airships routinely for cargo transfer tells me that, no, it would not be competitive with current practices without heavy subsidy.

    Even in a ‘we need to do this to save the world’ no expenses spared manner – well, global shipping, in total, contributes around 3% of GHG emissions. So, let’s be generous and say this completely eliminates GHG emissions from shipping while only adding 1/3 of them back into the aviation sector (which is currently 2%). So we go from 5% combined emissions to 3% combined emissions.

    That’s ignoring that 90% of world cargo transport is in that 3%. We would have to shift something like 60% of world shipping into aviation – a sector that currently handles significantly less than 1/6 that.

    How much is that 2% worth? The trillions of dollars it would take to stand up a whole new global transportation sector?

    110

  • #
    Robber

    And back to wind powered ships too?

    90

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      My grandfather, when young, went around Cape Horn in a windjammer. He was standing on the first cross tree of the foremast which was 40 feet above the deck. So add his height and the amount of freeboard. He ‘noticed’ that when the ship rolled that he could see the water directly under his feet about halfway through the roll. He also noted that the waves could be higher than him. When he (carefully) reached deck the second mate congratulated him on his luck in going round the horn on such a fine day. The previous trip the waves had been higher than the mainmast (and getting round had taken 3 days).
      Shortly after that my grandfather became very interested in steam engines and ships that didn’t travel round the horn.

      190

    • #
      Chad

      Or…. just go with the totally prooven , emission free, suprt powerful, ..Nuclear powered commercial shipping. !
      some peoplejust need to get their heard out og their back passage , and realise the obvious is answer is infront of them
      Airships…..the answer to a problem that doesnt exist !

      70

  • #
    Rick Kinsman

    Let’s just assume for a moment that there comes a time when there is a perpetual caravan of air ships, constantly aloft and travelling as described.
    I see much more use for them than just simply carrying cargo. For example, they could become weather stations, or ground surveillance platforms or perform many other functions of satellites in low orbit, which is pretty much exactly what they are.
    Let your imagination run free peeps!

    41

    • #
      el gordo

      Weather balloons and satellites are cost effective, but I can visualise these giant blimps in the Venetian habitable zone.

      01

  • #
    NotGreen

    This is the dumbest idea evvaahhh!
    A total security nightmare ! For a peaceful, monoculture without nuclear weapons , it would be great; unfortunately, nah.
    Think hundreds in the pipeline supposedly carrying cars from Asia to Europe over the USA unleashing 10s of thousands of SRAMs with Megaton warheads and 1-5 minute impact times.)

    30

  • #
    Peter Fitzroy

    Yet another post in the series about how we are at peak technology, and therefore nothing should change.

    I think the Tagline for this site should be change to Fossil Fuels Forever!!!!!!

    /but we do live on a finite planet

    116

    • #
      robert rosicka

      If you like the idea so much Peter why not mortgage your house and invest it all in the technology and prove to us your not full of hot air !

      140

    • #
      robert rosicka

      “Peak Technology ”

      Hot Rocks

      Pumping water up hill

      Electric cars that get charged from fossil fuel

      Using wind to generate power

      Blackouts caused by lack of power generation

      Turning your aircon off when it’s hot

      Using a battery to power a city

      And there must be a whole heap more good green ideas out there .

      190

      • #
        Peter Fitzroy

        See – why change, all new technology is crap, we should stay with a technology as it existed in the 1970’s

        18

        • #
          wal1957

          Stop being an idiot.
          It seems pretty obvious to me that we shouldn’t change to a technology that doesn’t do the job it is supposed to.
          As Robert suggested above, if you think this idea will work, stump up your money.
          BTW I only have 2 Opera Houses left on the market and 1 slightly used Eiffel Tower.

          80

          • #
            Graeme No.3

            Is that the Eiffel Tower sold twice in the 1920’s to gullible scrap metal merchants? The con man ‘allowed’ himself to be bribed so he would complete the deal.
            DISCLAIMER: Neither of the gullible buyers was called Fitzroy.

            40

            • #
              wal1957

              That’s the one Graeme.
              It was a brilliant con. However it pales into insignificance in comparison to the gerbil warming CO2 scare.

              80

        • #
          el gordo

          Airships would compete with airlines on a commercial basis, same goes for energy related matters, because its a free market.

          ‘/but we do live on a finite planet’

          Ah yes, that sort of emotive language is out of date. What do the Green/Left think of the push for nuclear power to replace fossil fuels?

          52

          • #
            Peter Fitzroy

            El G – The point of the post is that a new fledgling technology can not, should not, and must not compete against a mature technology.
            By this logic, cars could not compete against horses in the 1880’s – cars required significantly better roads, refuelling points, mechanical knowledge etc etc
            All this is true, if you want an instantaneous transfer, which is the logical basis of most of the posts of this type. Solar can not, at it’s current state of development, entirely replace coal, but like cars and horses , it can.

            To critique an idea, using a logical inconsistency like that is just silly?

            As to your crack about a finite planet, I’m assuming that you are a supporter of the growth is god (or good) model particularly in relation to resources, and that we will never run out of those. Nuclear is another finite resource. It can only be a stopgap on the way to something better.

            110

            • #
              robert rosicka

              I thought the point of this post was to point out the whacky ideas that come from the green side of the ledger .
              No thought as to if it will work but just if we throw enough money at it it has to work .
              Using cars and horses as an analogy for solar is a very poor equivalence.

              70

            • #
              Yonniestone

              Fair enough Peter, before all the finite resources run out we’ll rocket you and the other “believers” into space to find a green Utopia so you don’t have to watch us “growth worshippers” destroy this fragile sphere of glass.

              30

            • #
              Chad

              Peter Fitzroy
              August 25, 2020 at 11:40 am · I’m assuming that you are a supporter of the growth is god (or good) model particularly in relation to resources, and that we will never run out of those. Nuclear is another finite resource. It can only be a stopgap on the way to something better.

              I suspect you are confusing growth with progress and advancement of a progressive society
              But can we assume you are a follower of the “ growth is evil” thought train, and would be happy to regress to living in a grass hut , chewing leaves, and dumping in a hole dug in the local “pit” ?
              … because standing still is not an option, you either progress or slide backwards eventually.

              60

            • #
              el gordo

              I’m against nuclear because its too expensive to set up, meanwhile the government is organising a Bill on the urgings of outlier Latham. Coal is our energy base and Renewables are inefficient, nevertheless Premier Gladys is plowing ahead with her zones.

              It gives her electoral breathing space until they discover that CO2 doesn’t cause global warming, then they will build a state of the art Hele just outside of Dubbo. Depending on demand.

              Exponential technological growth, since the start of the Industrial Revolution, will continue apace. Until we find a new reliable cheap energy source, we should stick with coal.

              31

              • #
                DavidH

                Mark Latham’s proposal is for Uranium mining in NSW, not a nuke power plant. But the NSW energy minister apparently said “no”, claiming it’s more expensive to extract it from the ground higher than the return. What should he care? If a mining company thinks otherwise, they are free to pay the state its royalties and should be allowed to make or lose money as they think best.

                30

              • #
                el gordo

                The free enterprise model works best.

                The Renewable Zones will be a litmus test on the viability of such large projects, its not government funded apart from the usual laying out of the ground rules.

                10

  • #
    Graeme No.3

    This idea is so ludicrous that it should be regularly reprinted at a suitable time; April 1 suggests itself.

    Are they aware that the jet streams aren’t stable and predictable air currents?
    What happens if the blimp gets caught in a loop and passes its destination about 500 km. off course? Go round the Earth again? Or burn fuel trying to fly against the wind? What happens if one of these crashes into Mt. Everest?
    The next decline into stupidity must be the suggestion that they be solar powered. All those large things in the sky would be stopping sunshine reaching the ground and causing the supposed excess forcing to be reduced and ending any global warming. Oh! the horror, thousands of third rate “scientists” will be out of a job, many ecologists also. Of course, there is the “bright side” to look on, reduced sunlight and CO2 means less crops, so mass starvation. Bill Gates would be delighted.

    80

  • #
    rk

    As many have said it is nonsense. No airship could divert in time around thunderstorm activity or land in bad weather, especially with winds of any strength. At height jet streams often have significant turbulence through them and they don’t always travel in a uniform direction. Above 15,000′ in cloud icing would be a huge problem and there would be no means of preventing or removing ice on such a big surface once it formed. Large thunderstorms with severe hail and lightning would destroy them and lines of thunderstorms can often be 200 klms long or greater so that diversion is out of the question especially at such low speeds.
    It would not be possible to intergrate them into the air traffic system because of the inability to climb and descend at standard rates of 500 fpm or more, hangaring them would be a night mare and how they would handle in various types of emergencies would be problematic. The list of negatives show people pushing this nonsense have never flown at high levels or experienced severe weather in aviation.

    130

  • #

    AEP went bonkers when the global warming thing started up. I used to like his work, but he rapidly became unreadable.

    As for airships riding jet streams, that would be fun in the way roller coasters are fun. But instead of up and down you’d be strewn around the world as wonky jet streams deposit you all over the globe. The jet streams are especially wobbly at the moment due to the solar minimum, leading to big blocking patterns like the heat in Siberia and the floods in China. (I’m presuming these are related, I haven’t looked up the jet stream patterns at the time – but the local climate patterns seem very like the 2010 Great Moscow Heatwave and the devastating Pakistani floods during the last solar minimum.)

    Here’s the site I go to since it is quick and easy: CRWS Jet Stream Map Menu It has an advantage over other sites like Windy as the jet stream maps are archived and easily accessible, so you can go back an pull up the data from any day of any year. I should do that for the China floods/Siberian heatwave to see if my hypothesis is correct, but I can’t be bothered. Chasing this stuff is marathon whackamole, it gives you a tired arm after more than a decade of doing it.

    70

    • #

      I imagine they can drop under the jet stream and manage their steering.

      30

    • #
      el gordo

      Thanks for that link, a week ago I noticed the Southern Hemisphere jetstream resume a normal winter pattern and now the subtropical ridge has intensified.

      I’m mystified and require answers, there appears to be some kind of internal dynamic operating and entropy is involved.

      30

      • #
        sophocles

        Just in case you hadn’t noticed, the Sun has woken up again — it’s come out of it’s comatose state and

        is now having sunspots which means it’s now having solar flares and CMEs …

        20

    • #
      el gordo

      The Black Summer bushfire season was exacerbated by a strong blocking high pressure sitting off the Queensland coast. It was completely out of sync for that time of year and the jetstream was extremely wobbly.

      10

  • #

    Let’s do it. All these big blobs in the sky will preventreflect energy back to space, preventing it reaching the ground thus counteracting the increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

    *don’t let them use helium.

    21

  • #
    TdeF

    An animist solution, the Green religion. Earth, wind and fire will fix everything.

    Half a million windmills in rich countries which do not need them. Absolutely useless. Billions of solar panels. For what?

    Now we want a wind driven economy, if you really want to go in the direction the wind is blowing and only in the direction the wind is blowing. How did that work out last time?

    What’s next, going to work by balloon?

    And we are told how cheap and Green it all will be. Now where have I heard all this before?

    70

    • #
      TdeF

      Running out of Helium? The internet is full of this, some calculating 117 years to go, at current rates of consumption. However something is not right. Monatomic Helium reaches escape velocity and leaves the Earth’s gravitational pull. Once released, it is lost forever. So how is there any left in the first place? Party balloons, conspicuous consumption and we will run out?

      There are obviously limits of continuous consumption and Helium is near impossible to imprison. And it reacts only with Flourine. So the real question is how is there any left on the planet after six billion years?

      So I suspect we will never run out because unlike any other element, it is continually being produced by radioactive decay of elements as alpha particles. And it is trapped for a short time in the earth in pockets near radioactive material and turns up in combination with natural gas from which it is separated. That alone explains how there can be any. The upside of this is that we will not run out. The downside is that there is not enough for continuous refilling of fleets of helium airships.

      80

  • #
    TdeF

    It reminds me of the plan in WWII to use giant icebergs as aircraft carriers. Absolutely no control but a great weapon if you could get them up the English Channel or into the Mediterranean. Nothing would terrify the Germans more than an iceberg attacking Hamburg. Actually I think the plan had some merit in the aircover gap in mid Atlantic, except that they go where they want to go.

    20

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      TdeF:

      Good old Pykecrete (named after the inventor. The ice was ‘insulated’ by mixing it with sawdust, but the plan was for refrigerating equipment on board for repairing torpedo and bomb damage. Apparently a small scale one was built on a lake in Canada but that was the end of it.

      Pyke proved it didn’t melt rapidly by bursting into Churchill’s bathroom and putting a model into the hot bath where Churchill was relaxing. It didn’t catch on as a hobby.

      30

  • #
    Annie

    Another flight of fancy from dear Ambrose.

    40

  • #
    Bill Hall

    We can cheaply make Helium by fusing Deuterium ?

    30

  • #
    Bill Hall

    We can cheaply make Helium by fusing Deuterium ?

    10

  • #
    Tmatsci

    More pie in the sky

    00

  • #
    RickWill

    A fundamental of travel in any media is drag. Aeroplanes and ships operate in essentially a single media. Ships do push through air but air drag is a tiny fraction compared to water drag. Viscous drag is the square of speed. That means the power and rate of fuel use is a function of velocity cubed.

    Halving the speed of a ship reduces its fuel consumption by 87%. But it takes twice as long to get there so the fuel saving is 43%. It seems that that is a worthwhile saving but operations at half the speed will require almost double the fleet, double the crew and double the crew provisions. The size of the vessel and operating speed are chosen to minimise overall costs.

    The Chinese built Valemax bulk carriers have a load capacity of 400kt and design speed of 15kts using 30,000HP and a full crew of 22. No doubt the size and speed were selected to minimise the transport cost of iron ore from Brazil to China; port loading draft limited the size. It would take maybe 400 ARH50 to do what a single Valemax can do. That would require a crew (pilots) of 800; wage bill of the order of 100 times more than the ship.

    The cost of doing something is always a good indicator of the overall efficiency. It will be a long time before the planets align to make airships a viable transport option. There could be a niche market where they get a foothold that enables the technology to develop.

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    Yonason

    “Caravans of airships riding jetstreams for freight?”

    I propose we call them “Hein-Liners,” in honor of the science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein: unless any are lit by L.E.D. lights, in which case we can call those “LED Zeppelins.”

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    Having worked in the industrial gases industry specifically on helium I believe I can comment.

    Helium is expensive! And more demand will push up the price. It constantly leaks from the air ships and needs to be topped up. Whats more its a finite resource.

    The airships I got involved with back then did not have high payloads at all and will not have changed much. Cargolifter was one company which was touted as being a game changer with regard to moving large bits of equipment and loads around the place – it never went anywhere as the costs were too high.

    The costs here will be too high again but costs never stopped those of the Green persuasion. They are allergic to facts and science and costs are beyond them.

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    Caravans of airships riding jet-streams for freight and a Big rock candy Mountain…

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    Stoichastic

    I suppose local manufacture and supply is out of the question?

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    Bernard

    I can’t wait to see what happens when an airship meets a wind farm in a stiff breeze.

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    Serge Wright

    Rather ironically, Hitler tried using this mode of transport back in the 1930s and therefore we already know how this will end. The only difference will be the ships name. Instead of the Hindenburg, this modern version would be known as the Thunberg.

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    WDC

    Airships is an old concept, invented in Germany, revitalized by the Company Cargolifter AG in Berlin in the mid 90s. The concept was to build airships as cargolifters for loads up to 160 tons. After spending an awful lot of taxpayers money the company after 16 years of unsucessfully trying to build a prototype eventually run into insolvency.

    So, just another clever dude rewarming a nice sounding idea to grab millions of taxpayers earnings?

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    Mikehig

    It’s a completely bonkers idea but does provide some fun in thinking through a few practicalities.
    They will have a lot of challenges with the gas laws. At jetstream altitudes and temperatures the gas enveloppe will have to be three times the ground-level volume.
    Whatever the payload, the ship will need equivalent ballasting systems for loading and unloading.
    The ships will have to be immense to carry any meaningful load. At the intended operating altitude, 1 cu metre of helium has a buoyancy over air of about 0.35 kg, before any allowance for the enveloppe, propulsion, crew cabin, etc.. Guess 0.3 kg effective lift per cu m. So the airship volume will have to be at least 3000 cu m per ton of payload.
    World production of helium is about 24,000 tons pa. 1 kg of helium gives about 5 kg of lift. So the entire world’s production for one year would provide a carrying capacity of 120,000 tons: the equivalent of one largeish ship!

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    Lucky

    Airships. It is time.
    Australia Post will back it to speed up mail delivery.

    Uneconomic you say? Surely not when all the enviro/socio/economic costs are accounted for. Do not forget the massive amount of carbon poison put out by shipping consuming heavy oil and diesel. The way to fix this is to equalize the cost burden with a carbon t err. enviro levy.
    Set to the correct level this will apply equal playing field costs to fossil fuel powered shipping.
    Then, to get the new very profitable and economic airship industry up and running we do as the power industry has trail-blazed- all freight customers must use an airship if one is available.
    Same applies to aircraft and road transport. Apply the full cost via a carbon t. err enviro levy, and stop the ability of selfish competitive capitalists to undercut using the subsidies they are now getting.

    Now, to deal with possible lack of cooperation from the micro-states where most ships are now registered, international cooperation and rules are needed for the common good. The ideal body for this is the UN which always gets it right.

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    Andy Halloran

    How would we be able to build these super airships without fossil fuels? Production of the steel, aluminum, or other structural materials would be impossible without fossil fuels. And the mining of the ores to produce these materials would also be impossible. This is just another pipe dream!

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    This is a truly bonkers idea. Aside from the lack of helium, the dangers of hydrogen, the poor manoeuvrability of airships in even modest winds, there is still the practical consideration of the sheer size and number of airships that would be required.

    At the end the day it comes down to buoyancy and Archimedes’ principle. In order to lift one tonne of cargo the airship needs to displace at least one tonne of air. At sea level that is about 775 cubic metres. At 40,000 feet it will be more than three times that. So you would need an airship the size of an oil supertanker in order to lift a mere 100 tonnes of cargo. That is the equivalent of about 5 freight containers. A container ship can carry almost 1000 containers. So you would need 200 airships, each the size of a supertanker, to replace one cargo container ship. As I said, this is a truly bonkers idea.

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    pouncer

    It’s dumb to consider a convey of zeppelins for cargo. As many here have already stated — too hard to land. Much less to load and unload while attempting to maintain altitude via neutral buoyancy.

    BUT, a network of unmanned zeppelins going round and round would provide many of the same advantages as orbital satellites. Observation platforms for weather and geographic studies. Monitoring against violations of military weapon treaties. Relays for communication signals.

    Whether or not its cheaper to go aloft in aircraft or in spacecraft is a whole ‘nother question.

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    Philip

    Conceptually, why not ? Thing I hate is how the greens try to claim these ideas as theirs. If it makes sense it would be done in anyone’s version of the world. Even the “evil” Rupert Murdoch would do it to make money.

    I’d dare say its laden with problems once you get away from the concept level.

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      Chad

      Philip
      August 26, 2020 at 9:34 pm ·
      Conceptually, why not ?

      Even as a concept , it is totally impractical.
      Simple physics and basic engineerig quickly lets you know that this would be as practical as the proverbial Chocolate Teapot !

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