Thursday, September 21, 2006

Airships Time Has Come

While nuclear power generation of steam processing for the Tar Sands is in the news off and on again, one of the other wonderful wacky ideas the Lougheed government in Alberta considered in the late 1970's and early 1980's was the use of Airships for heavy lift operations in the Tar sands.

The plans included airships with extra lift for carrying HD equipment, the extra lift provided by attached helicopters.

It turns out to be not so wacky and idea. Airships are an excellent energy efficient and sustainable form of transportation. The dangers posed in the past have been overcome.

But the Hindenberg incident doomed them to the pages of science fiction, from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to Michael Moorcock, for the last sixty years.

The Hindenburg Revisited

Everyone knows that the Hindenburg burned and crashed because it was full of hydrogen. According to Addison Bain, everyone is wrong.

But no longer a report on sustainable transportation in the arctic published last year suggests that Airships need to be seriously considered for Northern development. Furhermore airship development for the north is being taken seriously as a form of sustainable energy efficient transportation see the links below to conferences and studies.

A Zepplin first transversed the Arctic in 1931 in a successful mission. Italy and and Russia also experimented with ariships in the Arctic prior to WWII.

The 1931 Polar Flight of the Airship Graf Zeppelin

An Historical Perspective

With todays technology and designs lighter than air aircraft need to be considered for doing the heavy lifting that other petroleum based forms of transportation can't because of costs.

The International Pipeline and Offshore Contractors Association (IPLOCA) is giving serious consideration to this idea that was once bounced around the Lougheed cabinet. Ah those were the days when the Alberta Advantage was our imagination and enthusiasm for the future.


Examines the political, commercial and personal stories that lie behind airship flights within the Arctic Circle. This book goes far beyond a description of the flights themselves, however fascinating and adventuresome they may have been in their own right. From the first lighter-than-air ascent in the Arctic in 1799 to the flight of the 'Graf Zeppelin' in 1931, it examines some of the early plans and endeavours. 10 maps. Diagrams. 177 b/w illustrations/photos. 312 pages. Hardback

Big balloons prescribed as cheap cure for what ails Nunavut

It’s all up in the air

Prof pitches scheme to test airships in Arctic

Airship industry seeks wider acceptance

21st Century Airships - The future of flight

Airships to the Arctic

University of Manitoba 2003 Airships to the Arctic Symposium II

Airships to the Arctic III

The Mobilus Initiative: Creating A New Component of the US Aerospace Industry Centered Upon Transport Airships

Cargo Airships: Applications in Manitoba and the Arctic

Exploration, movement of heavy
bulky equipment, basic research, environmental
and resource management, and sovereignty
issues require transportation that
is cost effective (reduces the high cost of
caching fuel), can move slowly over the
landscape (oceanographic measurements,
geological and geophysical surveys, global
change surveys and wildlife census), has
minimal environmental impact, is highly
visible, and uses a vehicle that can move
easily over rough ice, water and land.
Given the scenarios outlined above it
is clear that other transportation options
need to be considered. One of these is the use
of airships. There are many skeptics concerning
use of airships but most people
agree that airships are light on infrastructure
(the airships are the infrastructure),
require little maintenance, and use comparatively
little fuel. Some of the uneasiness
with airships comes from the perception
that they are unsafe, primarily based on the
image of the burning Hindenburg and the
use of hydrogen.
This article presents a historical perspective
on arctic exploration using airships,
some past and current technologies relating
to airships, and a brief review of comparative
cost of operations. We also discuss the
potential benefits of airships to environmental
research and natural resource management
in the Arctic, and evaluate northern
weather patterns as they relate to airship
operations, as this is a consistent concern of
those who question their use under the
“harsh” arctic conditions.

The Mackenzie Valley Highway: Should it be Completed? If so, How Should It Be Funded

The first part of this paper will examine whether the Mackenzie Valley Highway project
is economically justified. Estimates of construction and annual maintenance costs are available.
In assessing the benefits from quicker and cheaper transport, account will be taken of an
alternative highway route, the Dempster Highway. Consideration will also be given to anemerging technology, airships, which in the near-to-medium future may become a viable alternative for the transport of consumer goods and commercial freight to Northern communities and development sites.

Full Proposals for IPY 2007-2008 Activities
Click for printer friendly version Proposed IPY Activity Details


(Activity ID No: 324)

1.1 Title of Activity
The use of airships to study aquatic (marine and freshwater) and terrestrial ecosystems, visually and through the collection of samples across large sections of the Arctic

The key objectives are to test 1) airships as an alternate scientific vehicle, with a low environmental impact, by developing a series of ecological transects across the Canadian Arctic, 2) airships as a mobile transport infrastructure for short term flights such as caching scientific supplies, dropping off and picking up research crews in isolated areas, accessing hunting areas and testing scientific equipment (geophysical and oceanography). Furthermore greenhouse emissions will be documented and data will be collected on weather and air/water/soil/tree samples collected along the transects. Airships will also be used at sea ice break-up and during the spring hunt in the vicinity of Iqaluit. Of particular interest will be an assessment of the impacts, if any, on the movement of mammals and birds and the ability to improve census methods and 3) determine if airships could have a role in mitigating some of the effects of a warming Arctic.
The airship will originate from Yellowknife and key activity areas will be around Inuvik and Iqaluit. The Inuvik Research Centre and Nunavut Research Institute (Iqaluit) are major research partners in the proposal. ETAA plans several ecological transects from Yellowknife to Inuvik, Yellowknife to Iqaluit via Rankin Inlet. A transect is planned along the north slope of Alaska to Barrow and back across the Beaufort Sea in conjunction with the Canadian coast guard vessel (Nahidik). Additional activities will occur in the vicinity of Inuvik (transects over the Mackenzie River delta) and Iqaluit (test equipment, move supplies and move hunters during the spring hunt at the ice edge). The period of operation will be about 6 months over 2 years with most activity during the summer months. Arctic weather has often been considered a limitation for airship operation in the Arctic. A recent evaluation of weather patterns in the Canadian Arctic indicates that airships could operate much of the year in the Canadian Arctic because weather does not appear to be limiting.

The Transportation Context
Airships could form an integral part of sustainable passenger and freight transport.
The majority of new concepts for medium and large airships rely on rigid structures for
providing a maximum payload capacity, safety and efficiency. Airships cruise at a low
altitude (1000 - 2000m) which helps avoid interference with other modes. They require
little ground infrastructure and could link to other transport modes.
“Air crane” concept
The Dutch CargoLifter AG “CL160” is an example of a large semi-rigid freight
airship for point-to-point delivery of heavy and bulky loads – “air crane” concept. With
a payload capacity of 160 tons and a range of 10,000km this offers an option for
transport of bulky goods which might otherwise require bridges to be temporarily
removed or loads to be disassembled and reassembled. The first full scale prototype is
to fly in summer 2001. Larger airships targeting unique market segments like bulky and
heavy freight transport will require innovative solutions addressing logistic aspects of
this concept. There are other developments in Russia and the US.

Lovin' Hydrogen
Maverick energy guru Amory Lovins says a profitable, pollution-free hydrogen economy is just over the horizon. It's merely a matter of taming the most powerful gas on the planet
DISCOVER Vol. 22 No. 11 (November 2001)

The Hydrogen Economy
By Jeremy Rifkin
After Oil, Clean Energy From a Fuel-Cell-Driven Global Hydrogen Web



The Home Page for Lighter-Than-Air Craft

Find blog posts, photos, events and more off-site about:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments: