What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Technical discussions regarding LTA-technology.

What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Hydrogen
10
34%
Helium
11
38%
Methane
0
No votes
Hot Air
0
No votes
A combination of one/more of the above
8
28%
Other
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 29

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ComAir
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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby ComAir » Mon May 30, 2016 3:19 pm

Adrian wrote:I edited my previous post in this thread to nuance my statement on hydrogen I bit, it may have come over as a little bit too extreme, or I was in a pessimist mood that day. I don't want to demote the usage of it, that would be counterproductive.

But as I lurk the thread, lots of members here (including myself) seem to be skeptical about using hydrogen for large airships, but not for smaller airships. Maybe we are a bit hypocritical, or at least myself. I don't know, maybe it is indeed a case of Hindenburgophobia as Xair said :lol:


Hindenburgophobia, well, I'm not sure if I would feel really comfortable with tens of thousands of cubic meters of hydrogen above me, personally.

I'm not against using hydrogen in cargo airships like the Airlander, which can fly autonomous, or if the few people inside accept the risks. I don't think that the government should restrict using it in that sense.

I don't see how supporting small airships using hydrogen (or cargo) but super large ones not using it is hypocritical... there's a huge difference in casualty rate or general destructiveness if something goes wrong with a 240m hydrogen airship or a 50 meter blimp.

I think if hydrogen is going to be used again, it will first be used in blimps, since a big portion of the current airship industry is dominated by blimps. Maybe as a more economical and environmental friendly alternative for helicopters and (static) aerial observance. But hydrogen will not be contemplated or lobbied for by most current airship or blimp companies when it is still financially sound to use helium

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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby turtleairships » Mon May 30, 2016 4:14 pm

@ ComAir

".......I think if hydrogen is going to be used again, it will first be used in blimps, since a big portion of the current airship industry is dominated by blimps. Maybe as a more economical and environmental friendly alternative for helicopters and (static) aerial observance. But hydrogen will not be contemplated or lobbied for by most current airship or blimp companies when it is still financially sound to use helium....."

You are correct; and that is a sad truth. Sad, because it automatically limits the growth of a future airship industry. Serious, I mean REALLY SERIOUS, would-be airship companies should be planning NOW for using flammable gasses, eventually.

Turtle Airship does. Period. Just as we focus on using Solar Power augmented Distributed Electric Propulsion.

Airships of the past are nice; and current airships are a loss for the most part..........we have to begin to plan now for a truly robust, global, economically viable airship industry. That includes everything from new manufacturing methods, to new aircraft designs, the use of new materials, and creative means of financing..........and the use of flammable lifting gasses such as hydrogen.

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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby flyhigh » Tue May 31, 2016 11:58 am

ComAir Said:
I think if hydrogen is going to be used again, it will first be used in blimps, since a big portion of the current airship industry is dominated by blimps. Maybe as a more economical and environmental friendly alternative for helicopters and (static) aerial observance. But hydrogen will not be contemplated or lobbied for by most current airship or blimp companies when it is still financially sound to use helium


We will see in the future. I think if helium blimps become to expensive to operate, which is hypothetical, then there will be a rise in thermal airships for advertising, with the latter being a much cheaper option for businesses. Thermal airships are already getting more popular because of this. For advertising, you don't need much else anyway.

However, I hope helium won't become too expensive or too scarce a resource. I do hope hydrogen will be allowed for blimps.
Here's a thread I just made regarding an article on the very same topic: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=278
Last edited by flyhigh on Thu Jun 23, 2016 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
blimps don't crash, they sink.
~don't tread on me~

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ComAir
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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby ComAir » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:28 pm

There's a reason why the first airships that flew on hydrogen had so much distance between the gondola and the gasbags...
with the engines and passengers located further from the hydrogen in case something goes wrong. I wonder why they left that idea behind with the airships that followed on it?

Image

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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby ComAir » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:47 pm

Also, it's sort of the fault of hydrogen that we don't have super large rigid airships these days.
If the R38, R101, Hindenburg and Roma airships used helium instead of hydrogen, then the faith of super large airships could have been different. I personally think it was rather risky and unwise to fill them with hydrogen, it was disaster waiting to happen. Sure, helium wasn't readily available back then, but yet they knew that beforehand and still built the ships. Kind of ruined the image of airships in general. It would've been better if they would've waited till helium was available or otherwise not build or fly the ships. I think if you would ask anyone from major positions in government or airship companies from that time after those major airship disasters what they would think is the best lifting gas, well, then I'm quite sure they would say never to contemplate using hydrogen for super large rigid airships again.

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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby turtleairships » Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:06 pm

It all began because it was the only way to fly. No airplanes. Instead, you can get up using hot air (which did not have the great burners we have today); or, by using some sort of lighter-than-air gas. Helium in Europe was extremely difficult to obtain, and very costly. But, "coal gas" was readily available. It was flammable, but much less so than hydrogen. So those types came on first. eventually, it was realized that one could manufacture their own gas rather than buying it from a municipal gaslight source, so that was a logical next step...........

before 1915, there was little helium available. after that, the U.S. had a virtual monopoly on helium. European or Asian airship programs HAD to progress without helium.

Only after World War I, was helium available for Los Angeles, Shenandoah, Macon, Akron, ZMC-2, etc. all U.S. ships, as you notice. everyone else was left without. this situation continued, almost without exception right up to the present day.
although there are helium sources in Algeria, Poland, Russia, Qatar.......everyone still depends on the U.S. supply.

and that is one reason why future airships MUST use flammable gasses once again, if they are to become a part of a global economicly important part of air transport

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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby Airshipcenter » Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:26 pm

@ComAir, Interesting picture. I love the retro airship designs and especially Parseval airships. For a hydrogen blimp, a gondola hanging below does seem safer. As why those designs aren't used anymore, well, I think there's just no interest for them. If airships were more popular, you may get more people together who want to build such projects, just like there are a lot of builders who construct retro aircraft. Sadly this isn't the case yet for retro airships, but hopefully there will be one day. It should really not die out.

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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby derik.flensburg » Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:36 am

If safety programs and aircraft operational limits (no abrupt maneuvers like the one that likely caused the hindenburg to burn) are adhered to, hydrogen is the most efficient hands down.

If people are dumb and cannot follow procedures (though people still die due to helium mishandling/lack of SCBA), then helium is the only way to go.

Hot air is doable in smaller dirigibles and methane is just inefficient.

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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby Airshippeer » Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:09 pm

There are vast amounts of helium in the earth, think about Russia, Urals..China, South America, under the oceans. Just no real incentive to get it out, but hybrid airships could change that and create more demand. Yes its costly, but new technologies always make that cheaper (if it won't be halted by environmentalists.)

With current production there is at least enough helium for a few very big airships to operate.

Hydrogen fear doesn't sell.

In the end, it should the decision of the company (or the owner of the dirigible / blimp / balloon)
I do dislike the many bans in countries on using hydrogen for motorized balloons or blimps, even for hobbyists.

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Re: What is the best lifting gas for an airship?

Postby Maluka » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:17 pm

Helium gives you ease of mind during flight.
Hydrogen gives you ease of mind during night when you know filling the airship won't cost you a kidney.
Sure there can be a lot of helium in the ground, but as it is extracted as a by product the supply isn't that high.
Hydrogen can be created and offers more lifting power, but also more challenges regarding safety.
But challenges only exist to be solved, that goes for either hydrogen danger and helium scarcity.

In the end, both work, know the risks and use what you are willing to afford :)


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