Network for the Environment and Social (Human) Security

Airships and the Climate Change

Posted by on Feb 9, 2011 in Totem | 1 comment

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The era of Airships, also called Zeppelin, was a short one and ended tragically.

The most famous airship, the Hindenburg (1), was 245 meter long, 41 meter in diameter and had a cruising speed of about 125 kilometer per hour, maximum speed 135 km/h. Normal cruising height was 200 meters. In normal cruise settings the Hindenburg burnt 130-180 kg Diesel fuel an hour. In 1937 the Hindenburg carried 72 passenger and 52 crew members. Together 124 people.  The carrier gas at that time was hydrogen. Hydrogen is very dangerous, since it is highly inflammable. The Hindenburg burnt in Lakehurst/USA in May 6, 1937. This was the abrupt end of the short airship era.  

 A sort of airships, so called Blimps (2) are even used to this very day, although not for transportation. The Blimps were first used by the military as an outlook. In the meanwhile it is used for advertisement and for aerial sightseeing. 
In Germany some people came up with the idea to build a semi-rigid airship, which could transport up to 160 tons of goods. Somehow the company got into economical difficulties and the ship by the name of CargoLifter (3) was not built. And a huge possibility was buried with it. Much cargo is transported in long range distances by airplanes. Airplanes need much more fuel than airships, because the airplanes need to reach high speed to be able to fly. This is a waste of energy and produces lots of Greenhouse gases. Although an airship would be ideal for cargo transportation it is not economical for transportation of people in the long range, like inter-continental traveling.
But as a means for public transporation in the small and medium range the airships holds many possibilities.

One of the possibilities would be the transportation in a city or metropolitan area. The roofs of sky scrappers are the stations. The advantage would be, that almost no infrastructure is needed. It would be a cheap solution. Even longer distances of up to, let’s say, 500 kilometers are feasible. with a cruising speed of 125 km/h  it would take about 4 hours to cover the distance. No streets or train tracks have to be build and the damage to nature would be so minimized. Also it would be a save way to travel, since Helium is used as a lifting gas, which is not inflammable.

All reasons, except one, are in favor of reviving the Airship. The only reason against it is, that it is a old technology. But this depends only on our perception. Just because something is old and not used anymore does not mean it is bad. If airships would help us to save energy and would not damage nature as much as other technologies, than there is absolutely no reason not to use them! We just have to learn to think outside of our regular boxes.

The airship would help immensely in the fight against Climate Change!

Further reading: 

1. Hindenburg  

2. Blimp 

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  1. dermajuv

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