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comment by kleinbl00

Airships can lift a shit-ton. Sure, they're "lighter than air" but they're still massive. Thing of it is, though, they're still one bad storm from destruction. Every Navy airship of the WWII era died in a storm.

The one thing that's changed from the '30s is that helium is becoming harder to come buy. I know a guy who had a DARPA project that, for liquid cooling, used all the commercially-available research helium. Since it was an Iraq War project he got it but... in a future where everything needs to be super-cooled to be fast, you have to ask yourself how much helium you want to put into blimps.




goobster  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I was discussing this with a mutual friend of ours, kleinbl00, who happens to know a lot about lighter-than-air craft.

The overnight helium loss on these things is astronomical. Just sitting there in the building.

And it ain't getting cheaper any time soon.

Deltron_0  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Is the loss a necessary design component, or an inevitable loss? Could it be mitigated?

kleinbl00  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's a serious engineering challenge to make a lightweight membrane that's impermeable to helium. It's an itty bitty molecule. On the plus side, it's chemically inert.

It's actually impossible to make a membrane that's impermeable to hydrogen. It's highly reactive, for one, and reacts with most anything it touches. It also decays straight-up in to alpha radiation which is freakishly science-ey. The fact that we use helium, even though hydrogen lifts twice as much, says a lot about what sort of compromises are necessary when dealing with lighter-than-air craft.

user-inactivated  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Let's just switch to hydrogen then. What's the worse that could happen? /s

kleinbl00  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

We could also just replace the atmosphere with sodium hexafluoride. It makes airship design much simpler.

WanderingEng  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I assume you mean sulfur hexaflouride. A coworker had a balloon of that, and it's so weird seeing a balloon fall to the ground like it's filled with rocks. It's nice and inert, too! So inert it's used for high voltage insulation.

user-inactivated  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I just realized I would kill to see James Earl Jones take a hit of sulfur hexafluoride and then say a few lines from Star Wars.

kleinbl00  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The Internet has let me down. I did what I could.

user-inactivated  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's awesome.

kleinbl00  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  
goobster  ·  962 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Holy crap. What is someone with throttled bandwidth doing on Hubski?!? :-)