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Could hydrogen rigid air-ships return?

  1. Feb 8, 2014 #1
    Yes, I know the fate Hindenburg.

    However, as far as I can find:
    So it seems that contemporary materials are a bit more advanced.

    So could such ships return for for example for transporting heavy weights in places where road transport is inconvenient (like: far north; dragging wind turbines)?

    Could hydrogen be contained well enough with contemporary technology? (with maybe an isolating layer of inert gas) Or would it be just interestingly looking but explosive, impractical or expensive in comparison to normal planes?

    (I ask only for technical challenges and not regulatory challenges.)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 8, 2014 #2
    Cube shaped gas cells of conducting rubber with a flame retarding coating?Can an airship be connected to an electrical ground?
     
  4. Feb 8, 2014 #3

    AlephZero

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    These guys tried, and failed. (I know somebody who left a good aerospace job to go to work for them. Bad career move!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CargoLifter
    That was using helium not hydrogen, though.

    Sorry, but in the real world you can't make any money unless you can satisfy both of the above.
     
  5. Feb 8, 2014 #4

    SteamKing

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    Sure, you could build a zeppelin filled with hydrogen using modern materials for the gas bags. However, you are still sitting with a bomb in your lap.

    The Hindenburg is though to have caught fire because of a build up of static electricity on the vessel ignited hydrogen which invariably leaks through the material of the gas bags. It's hard to simultaneously eliminate sources of static electricity build-up while at the same time minimizing the amount of hydrogen gas which escapes through whatever material you use to hold the gas.
     
  6. Feb 9, 2014 #5
    I should treat your post as ironic, or really should imagine such airship dragging a cable to ground it when flying over lakes/seas? (sounds funny, but a long cable neither sounds technically impossible nor as too heavy)

    Anyway - is it possible to connect at landing the airship in a way that would slowly discharge static charge?
     
  7. Feb 26, 2014 #6

    etudiant

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    The deal killer for airships is not the hydrogen risk, but rather the structural problems arising from the operation of an ocean liner sized vehicle in the air. Frozen precipitation and turbulence are very hard to design against, given the weight constraints. The vehicles work well when run very conservatively, but are so very vulnerable that they have proven incompatible with routine operations.
     
  8. Feb 27, 2014 #7

    mheslep

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    With dynamic air pressure proportional to v^2, I would think those forces would be, say, 25 fold less with a 100 kt aircraft versus the jet at 500 kts with all else the same.
     
  9. Feb 27, 2014 #8

    AlephZero

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    Impact damage from rain or hail is not a big deal structurally for an aircraft, compared with hitting an 8-pound goose (or a flock of them), or even a 20-pound mute swan flying at 10,000 ft.

    Trying to fly a 100kt aircraft in a controlled manner in a 80kt wind is a much bigger issue - especially when you need to land!

    Water ingestion causing engine flame-out is a different aspect of the problem though.

    I just saw a report that another company is trying its luck with a helium filled heavy lift airships, after the US military LEMV project was cancelled by the sequestration spending cuts in 2013.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Endurance_Multi-intelligence_Vehicle
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26372277
     
  10. Feb 28, 2014 #9

    etudiant

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    Structural failure from bad weather destroyed the Akron, Macon and the Shenandoah. The atmosphere is able to produce such severe eddies and wind shears that large rigid airships are very much at risk. In addition, icing remains an unsolved problem. These issues are usually dealt with by avoidance, which clashes with the idea of a scheduled service. AlephZero adds the challenge of controlling these multi hundred foot long bubbles in a stiff wind while close to land. That puts the kibosh on the concept, imho.
     
  11. Mar 4, 2014 #10
    IIRC, it wasn't the hydrogen that brought the Hindenburg down. But rather it was the flammable dope used to paint the outer fabric that led to the disaster. The hydrogen just added fuel to the fire. The early aircraft dopes used to protect the fabrics were accidents waiting to happen.
     
  12. Mar 5, 2014 #11

    SteamKing

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    To-may-to, To-mah-to, collecting a lot of hydrogen gas in one place is an accident waiting to happen.
     
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