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Large, Slow Airships Could Move Buildings

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the buncha-hot-air dept.

Sci-Fi 184

Algorithmnast writes "The Economist has a short article on using big, slow-moving airships to move large objects without the need to dismantle them. The company mentioned, Skylifter, refers to the lifting ship as an 'aerial crane,' not a Thor weapon. It could easily help move research labs to new parts of the Antarctic, or allow a Solar Tower to be inserted into an area that's difficult to drive to, such as a mesa in New Mexico."

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184 comments

Pffft... That's nothing. (0, Offtopic)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837656)

"Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world."

Re:Pffft... That's nothing. (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837770)

Yeah. And small, fast planes can move 'em, too!

If you define your movement as descent on a vertical axis... :-)

Re:Pffft... That's nothing. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838624)

Pffft... That's nothing. "Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world."

Spouting cliches only enhances your cosmetic intelligence.

Re:Pffft... That's nothing. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839144)

Stand on the end of your lever.

But what happens when they... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837670)

...run into the building?

Did anybody think of that?

What was that show where the one building came alive, and to keep it happy they put it on tour?

Re:But what happens when they... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837746)

Ease back on the LSD there friend. Ease back.

Re:But what happens when they... (5, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838670)

But what happens when they ...run into the building?

Did anybody think of that?

No, you're just waaaaaaaaay smarter than the large group of people in this liability-happy society working on this project. What's it like being a highly sought after engineer?

U.F.O. (1)

DarkXale (1771414) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837672)

They just had to make it look like a traditional Alien 'U.F.O.' didn't they? (Skylifter)

Re:U.F.O. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838018)

Yeah, so now whenever someone spots a UFO, the government can say it was a skylifter. Easy.

Re:U.F.O. (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838284)

As opposed to now, when the actual answer is drugs, mental illness or weather balloon? Seriously, considering that the UFO phenomenon was purely a cover for balloons used to spy on the USSR back before satellites could, it's amazing how long this paranoia has gone on for.

Re:U.F.O. (2, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838388)

Hardly amazing. People like stories. Considering how long we've had nonsense like astrology, homeopathy, religion, and all sort of other superstitious nonsense, how can you be surprised that the UFO nutters are still at it?

Re:U.F.O. (3, Interesting)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839346)

Or even someone playing a prank.

I remember a TV show (called "a very British UFO hoax") about a group of special effects guys trying to pull off a UFO hoax. They were pretty successful, the flying saucer they built wasn't very big (I don't remember the exact size but it could be broken down into segments that would fit in a SUV) but the eyewitnesses reported it as much larger.

Most people don't understand their own vision. An eye doesn't directly tell us the size of or distance to objects just the angle is subtends on the retina (which roughly corresponds to size/distance).

Binocular vision tells us distance but it only works effectively over short distances .

So our brains use various clues to judge the size and depth of objects. One of those clues is how big we expect the object to be. An object flying at night takes away the other clues so if people are expecting it to be big they will see it as big!

Buildings falling from the sky (3, Interesting)

xaoslaad (590527) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837702)

The first time a house falls on a house they will be out of business from the lawsuits.

Re:Buildings falling from the sky (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837842)

Unless it's Xzibit putting a house in your house so you can be at home when you're at home, dawg.

Re:Buildings falling from the sky (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837948)

I don't know, there have been incidents where a flatbed carrying a house has crashed into things and destroyed them, they haven't shutdown all flatbeds yet. I'm sure insurance on something like this would be astronomically expensive, at least until the method is proven, but I don't think a single incident would immediately shut them down.

Re:Buildings falling from the sky (4, Funny)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838104)

That or the owner's pissed off sister is coming back to reclaim her shoes.

Is the company called ACME? (5, Funny)

Draconi (38078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837704)

Because I know a very well educated coyote that would be really interested in this sort of innovative technology with his work in high speed pest control.

Re:Is the company called ACME? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838420)

Last I checked, blimps weren't exactly "high speed". I can't see the boys at Top Gun coming up with a course for zeppelin pilots any time soon ...

Re:Is the company called ACME? (3, Informative)

Draconi (38078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838766)

Wile E. Coyote? Road Runner? A high speed pest?

Giant building sized anvil dropped from excessive heights courtesy an ACME Skylifter?

The joke - it is now explained

Re:Is the company called ACME? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838862)

Because I know a very well educated coyote that would be really interested in this sort of innovative technology with his work in high speed pest control.

Last I checked, blimps weren't exactly "high speed". I can't see the boys at Top Gun coming up with a course for zeppelin pilots any time soon ...

I'm pretty sure the high speed in question referred to the pest itself and not the speed of its control.

*meep* *meep*

Let the mother-in-law jokes begin (EOM) (-1, Offtopic)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837740)

...

Re:Let the mother-in-law jokes begin (EOM) (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837890)

oops, SRY - forgot mods don't have sense of humor

Headline Correction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837744)

Lift buildings?? I doubt it.. they are designed for compression loads, not tension. Though, if you lifted it from the bottom....

Re:Headline Correction? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838058)

Though, if you lifted it from the bottom....

Yeah some people do "move house" like that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T6Md60pBd4 [youtube.com]

Re:Headline Correction? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838144)

The Army already does this with some FOB's, airlift in prefab sections to build a complex.

Stolen Idea (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837766)

Stolen idea [go.com]

Re:Stolen Idea (1)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838190)

Bioshock Infinite

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_yAnQHHIgs

Burden not Columbia with your chaff.

cargolifter (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839310)

a german company which planned something similar in the nineties . They ran out of money when germany went into recession.

Project Thor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837792)

If you have a crowbar in orbit then surely you need a big rocket to take it out of orbit? You can't just snap your fingers and watch it fall out of the sky. If that's the case where is the advantage over an ICBM with a conventional payload?

Re:Project Thor? (0)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838056)

No, it takes a very small vector to cause an orbit to decay. The largest expenditure of energy is to get objects up into orbit in the first place. It's like a bucket of water on the top of a door. Hauling the bucket up there is a lot of work. Getting it to fall isn't.

Goodbye Building Industry (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837796)

And I thought local builders were relatively safe from outsourcing. Now it seems like China has a way to take another industry...

Re:Goodbye Building Industry (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838606)

They do not need to. They simply fix the Yuan against the dollar, subsidize, and then dump the product. With their QA, we even have a double entendre here.

Re:Goodbye Building Industry (3, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839366)

I thought local builders were relatively safe from outsourcing

Easy enough to do with panelized construction, components, etc. When they were still building houses like crazy, most of them were probably framed by illegal immigrants, and fitted with imported appliances.

Now excuse me while I prop another 2x4 against my office wall...

In all seriousness, I've been told that when looking for a house you want to find one that was built during a recession. In theory, people were able to chose better contractors during hard times, whereas boom-time houses are more likely to be slapped together quickly to make a buck.

good title (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837798)

I would have preferred this title:

OMFG HUGE and putting me to sleep kind of slow airships MAYBE could move buildings IF the company in question ever gets investment and builds them and it all works out at the end.

It's a freaking startup, not jesus.

Absolutely Terrible Idea (1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837806)

Structures are built right side up.
They won't survive if you pick them up from the top.

Shit will break off and fall to the ground.
The building will twist and break in the wind.
People will die.

Re:Absolutely Terrible Idea (2, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837970)

buildings are picked up from the bottom, using steel beams run through & under the foundation.

Re:Absolutely Terrible Idea (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838630)

Both you and the OP are correct in different ways - and aptly illustrate why this is such a bad idea.

Buildings (and pretty much everything else on Earth) are mostly designed to resist compressive loads I.E. the force of gravity. Thus, if you want to move a structure using this method your pretty much have two major options: First, to move an existing structure you can build a heavy cage around it so you can lift it from the top. Second, to move a new structure you can design in massive reinforcements so you can lift it from the top. Both are expensive and add considerable parasitic loads to the structure and the lift.

Not to mention, this idea has been floated a dozen times or more in the last fifty odd years, and always with the same result - a bankrupt company and penniless investors. While they've got some cool hacks in this scheme, they don't seem to have overcome the basic solution-in-search-of-problem problem. I.E. there doesn't actually seem to be a market.

Re:Absolutely Terrible Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33839374)

Not absolutely...there could be a niche market wherever they have tornadoes. Now this isn't exactly rapid response, but if your house (or shack or trailer) was going to get airlifted anyway, don't you want the pros to have a shot, instead of relying on mother nature to toss your house about?

Re:Absolutely Terrible Idea (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838000)

Maybe they first move the building onto a platform and lift that platform?

I have seen them move lighthouses that are a few hundred years old. The concept is not too different. Instead of moving the structure on the ground the whole distance, they are moving it a short distance on the ground then switching to the air. Also new structures could be designed to be lifted from the top. I see this more as a way of moving new structures then moving existing structures. Don't forget that certain equipment has to be assembled on site then used. They could move the equipment this way to the site.

Re:Absolutely Terrible Idea (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838128)

Buildings are moved all the time, and they're always picked up from the bottom. There's no reason to think that this method would differ (i did not RTFA).

Yup (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838584)

it is not like any engineer will ever be able to design homes to be picked up or to be mobile. Nor will 50-100 tonnes Nuke power plants be designed for that either.

Re:Absolutely Terrible Idea (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839098)

By "buildings" they obviously mean purpose-built specialty structures. ISO shipping container-format building modules would be one example.

The thing could be a handy industrial hauler, but using it would have to be a better deal than just schlepping the parts fairly close than airlifting them with ordinary heavy-lift helos.

There is also the "eggs in one basket" issue. Losing a small load in the crash of an expendable helicopter is no big deal.

Yeah, I saw that movie too. (5, Funny)

SpiffyMarc (590301) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837808)

It was super sad when that dude's wife died. The talking dog was funny though. Wait, what?

Re:Yeah, I saw that movie too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33839022)

I thought the same thing, lol

Re:Yeah, I saw that movie too. (3, Informative)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839064)

Squirrel!!

Re:Yeah, I saw that movie too. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839192)

seriously, though, the system used in that movie is a lot more robust than this disaster...

Starcraft (1)

Bourdain (683477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837844)

Well, until now I thought that feature among Terrans was useless...

Re:Starcraft (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838216)

We require more vespine gas!

Re:Starcraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838482)

Blasphemy! It's Vespene!

Or another idea ... (2, Insightful)

Jumperalex (185007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837862)

use it to move the ever increasing wind turbine parts that, a year ago, seemed to be getting too large to move over roads especially as regulations pushed them into less and less accessible areas.

Re:Or another idea ... (2, Insightful)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839118)

Parts?

You think too small young apprentice.

One of these could conceivably move a complete wind turbine into place. Just bolt it to a waiting foundation.

Helium (2, Interesting)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837868)

there might be a bit of a speed bump when we start running out of helium [slashdot.org]

anyone care to do the crossref math and tell us how much helium it will take to lift 150 tons and how that relates to the dwindling supply?

Re:Helium (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838040)

They can use hydrogen almost as easily.

Re:Helium (2, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838252)

Those building will soar high above the skyline, just like the Hindenburg! Wait...

Re:Helium (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838066)

The helium stays in the airship, it doesn't use it up when lifting.

Re:Helium (1)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838132)

Okay. The density of helium is about one sixth that of air, so one kilo of helium can lift about five kilos of not-helium. They mention lifting 150-ton loads, which would require 30 tons of helium. Worldwide production of helium is about 30 million tons a year. I think it'll be okay.

Re:Helium (1)

cindyann (1916572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838164)

Roughly speaking at STP, one gram of Helium will lift six grams of payload and occupies five liters.

150 tons = approx 136,000kg.

If I did my math right, it would take more than 22,666kg or 113,330 m^3 of Helium to lift it.

According to one source, the U.S. currently has over 4,000,000,000 m^3 in its strategic reserves, and an additional 15,000,000,000 m^3 in probable, possible, and speculative sources.

Re:Helium (5, Informative)

MagicM (85041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838228)

"to lift 1000 grams (1 kg), you need about 163 grams (~0.16 kg) of helium" [anl.gov]
150 tons = 150,000 kg [wolframalpha.com]
150,000 * 163 = 24,450,000 grams of helium needed [wolframalpha.com]
24,450,000 grams of helium = 137,000 cubic meters [wolframalpha.com]
"A billion cubic metres - or about half of the world's reserves" [independent.co.uk]
2 billion / 137,000 = 14,598.5 [wolframalpha.com]

14,598.5 airships before we run out of the current reserves. I think we're good. (Except for that last half airship, it'll be kinda screwed.)

Re:Helium (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838296)

thanks. that's the math I was looking for.

but wolframalpha? seriously?

;)

Re:Helium (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838592)

14,598.5 airships assuming that the entire planet immediately halts all welding of metal.

Re:Helium (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838872)

Not necessarily correct. You only need that much helium if it's at atmospheric pressure. Perhaps one could design a reinforced balloon where the increased weight is offset by the increased lift?

And a word to the wise: you don't need to show your work when you do simple multiplication/division. And you certainly shouldn't need Alpha to convert tons to kg. For shame.

Re:Helium (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839240)

I thought you could just ask Wolfram Alpha to read the summary and compose the post for you.

Or maybe it did.

Re:Helium (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838552)

There is no rational explanation for the proliferation of "Monster Airship" articles given the helium shortage. I've stopped trying to understand it.

Re:Helium (2, Interesting)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838704)

Helium is not the only lighter than air substance, large balloons are mostly hot air today. Also we know Hydrogen, methane, and ammonia will also work, each with at least one downside. Personally I think birthday parties would be way more fun with Hydrogen balloons anyway (then again, maybe that's why I never had any kids.)

Get the puns out of the way (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838050)

This idea is full of hot air. It will go over like a lead balloon. It's just an idea to puff up managements' egos. I hate to burst everyone's bubble, but the budget will balloon out of sight.

Re:Get the puns out of the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838212)

The Mythbusters have proven that lead balloons can fly.

Re:Get the puns out of the way (2, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838330)

It will go over like a lead balloon.

You can no longer use that phrase as the MythBusters showed you can make a balloon out of lead [youtube.com] and have it float.

I prefer to use the phrase, "It will go over like a granite balloon."

Re:Get the puns out of the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838702)

Didn't you learn anything from that episode? If you make a granite balloon large enough, the volume of helium inside will be enough to lift the shell of granite surrounding it.

Now if you said a swiss cheese balloon....

Re:Get the puns out of the way (3, Insightful)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838376)

Nice attempt at levity.

Re:Get the puns out of the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33839104)

Nice attempt at levity.

Yeah, except we want levitation, not levity.

Re:Get the puns out of the way (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839258)

Just a little light comedy for a volatile world.

Idea needs building industry support (3, Interesting)

Spectre (1685) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838118)

Skyscrapers may be vastly more affordable if built from interlocking modules on the ground that could be airlifted into place. Would such a structure be feasible (I'm not an architectural nor a mechanical engineer)?

As pointed out by somebody else, if anybody (these people aren't the first with this idea) could get this to market, it would be a boon for the growing wind turbine industry.

Re:Idea needs building industry support (1)

Tickety-boo (1206428) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838294)

Yes, the English did this in Hong Kong a year or two before handing the island over to the PRC. The building was constructed elsewhere as bunch of "bricks" and then shipped in and assembled.

Re:Idea needs building industry support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838680)

You mean like "Container City", the apartment building from intermodal shipping containers?

Re:Idea needs building industry support (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838806)

Skyscrapers may be vastly more affordable if built from interlocking modules on the ground that could be airlifted into place

Unlikely, I would think : how could using airlift ever be cheaper than a temporary crane on the top of the structure?

Re:Idea needs building industry support (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839060)

There are already construction methods for buildings which resemble assembly lines. They involve a construction module that rises with the building. I recall reading of a Japanese company which developed a process, if I recall correctly, where the building is raised as a new floor is built underneath. My memory is vague on that and I can't find a link.

But the point is that there already numerous efficient processes for building construction without having to complicate things by using airlifting.

The more I think about the idea the less I see a real use for it. Any compact structure that needs to be placed somewhere hard to reach can almost certainly be carried by helicopter. It's not like a massive building complex would be placed on a mountain top anyway. For most other locations, simply send parts via land, sea or air and build on the spot.

Fat chance (2, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838134)

If obesity rates continue to climb in this country, we could be looking at a new way to commute to the local KFC/Taco Bell.

Bioshock Infinite (-1, Offtopic)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838154)

A man chooses. A slave reads slashdot.

We don't learn fast, do we? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838156)

Large airships have been a recurrent proposal for moving large and bulky items which exceed the routine capabilities of the transport system.
The problem is that the airship needed is huge. That makes it very difficult to operate in anything other than good weather, even before attaching a massive but somewhat frail payload.
The record is full of airship and air lifter crashes because of bad weather or unexpected turbulence. Until that problem is resolved, the proposal is not serious.

If you build it they will come... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838236)

The idea of using airships to move heavy objects has been around for a long time. Moving heavy objects with airships may be more feasible than building the airships.

if you build it they will come... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838390)

The idea of using airships to move heavy objects is not new [wikipedia.org] . But as history has tried to teach us, moving heavy objects with airships may be easier than building the airships.

Love the last paragraph of the design tab (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838460)

Apparently, they have an issue with other nations/companies ignoring IP laws and stealing their tech. [skylifter.com.au] While many other companies have thought to do airship lifters, this UFO approach is unique. Even the propulsion appears well thought out. Good luck to them.

Helium (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838484)

It is time for America to quit dumping our Helium. It is going to get very expensive soon. In addition, it might be time to encourage capture from out many natural gas wells.

real problem is wind (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838514)

an airship that can lift 150 tons has a lot of crossectional area, even if a sphere need some serious motors to keep it stable in crosswinds, updrafts etc this was brought out in a great book by the new yorker write john mcphee, I think most of /. would love reading this book

Re:real problem is wind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838882)

Maybe they need more golfball-like dimples.

Re:real problem is wind (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839396)

And drag.

There's a good reason that Zeppelins are long and narrow and filled with hydrogen, instead of just the natural shape of a balloon that has minimal ratio of mass to lift.

But there's no good reason to paint them with rocket fuel [clean-air.org] .

BTW, as the link mentions, the Hindenburg carried its own hotel, with 50 cabins for passengers and berths for 59 crew members, plus common areas and a bridge, while fully occupied, and had short flight capacity for 20 more passengers, so the concept of moving buildings with an airship is hardly novel.

Ummm... been there, failed that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838562)

Re:Ummm... been there, failed that. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838926)

So, when a company with a totally different design fails, that means that new approaches will fail as well.

150 tons. Hmmm. Firefighting? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838710)

Here in Colorado and most parts of the west, we do not have have easy access to water. BUT, if something like this could carry 150 tones of water to a fire, well, that can help make a difference. In fact, with a good design, the carrier can be quite a bit lower than the lifter which means that they can put this close to the fire, prior to dumping the water.

Re:150 tons. Hmmm. Firefighting? (1)

XorNand (517466) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839244)

Fire hydrants put out about 5000 gallons per minute. A gallon of water weighs 8.345 lbs and 150 tons is 300,000 lbs. Therefore, the airship could carry 35,949 gallons, or enough for 7 minutes of fire fighting.

Too bad we'll be out of helium (0)

DoctorNathaniel (459436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838712)

Unless you want to wait a few millennia for alpha decay to replenish our supply, there simply won't be anything like this... at least not for more than a few years. We are foolishly squandering our remaining supply.

http://www.livescience.com/technology/helium-reserve-shortage-expensive-party-balloons-100823.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Livesciencecom+(LiveScience.com+Science+Headline+Feed) [livescience.com]

Has been done before - and failed spectacularly. (4, Informative)

Wdi (142463) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838714)

Remember Cargo Lifter [cargolifter.com] ?

One of the most spectacular failures during the wild technology startup stampede a decade ago in Germany. They burned several hundred millions before folding.

The only remaining legacy is a huge indoor pool in their former airship hangar...

"large objects" = *small* buildings (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838742)

The lift capacity of this VapourTech is 150 tonnes. That's not a very big building.

Helicopters vs airships (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33838764)

Mi-26 [aerospaceweb.org] useful lifting capacity 20 tons, gross lift 50 tons
Hindenburg class airship - useful lifting capacity 10 tons, 252 gross tons
Goodyear blimps are four times smaller than Hinderburgs

Lifting 150 tons with airship, VTOL or heli, when lifting record is about 40 tons? Could you pass me that stuff you are smoking? It looks really good.

Cargolifter, now bigger? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33838888)

There was a company in Germany trying to reintroduce air ships as transporters for heavy loads. They were called "Cargolifter". The only thing they ever built was a huge hangar. The company went bankrupt in 2002. The hangar has since been turned into a water park / resort [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Cargolifter, now bigger? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839410)

Lets see. Different nations. Different designs. Different business ppl. Different backing. Different economy. But the same idea to lift heavy things. Comparing Cargolifter to this company is like comparing CP/M to Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, or Windows 7.

Take a look at Cargolifter. It is ARCHAIC in its design. It would have had extreme difficulty in small winds, let alone heavy winds. All sorts of balance issues, etc.

Haar! That's just what we be needin'! (2, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839034)

Me'n the crew 'ere took o'er this 'ere buildin' some 12 years ago now, matey! If it were just a wee bit more mobile, we could plunder and pillage other buildin's! We'll be in touch with this 'ere company an' then we'll set sail on the high plains, movin' from city to city an' plunderin' buildin's as we go! Haaarr!

So instead of ordering a pizza (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33839058)

we could order the whole restaurant.

Not really for economical building moving (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839350)

This looks like a fantastically expensive way to move things to places where the cost of building is astronomical. The shape of the beast looks very uneconomical, though. It's rare to see this shape of pressure vessel (outside of very small pancake air compressors). It takes a lot of force to restrain a surface from becoming a sphere or tube (which is why historic ships are built the way they are, and why nearly every airplane has a circular fuselage).

This also has the disadvantage of being dynamically unstable under horizontal wind forces. If you're hit with a wind that is not perfectly horizontal, the leading edge will start to rise/fall. That increases the angle of attack and increases the rotational force. Most airships are tethered to a ballast (cargo area) from the perimeter (or nearly so), but the artists rendering does not reflect this stabilization.

I'm sure they've considered these things, but active controls are dodgy. Sure, the military goes with dynamically unstable configurations, but they do it for specific strategic advantage, and at an astronomical cost in risk, maintenance, and training.

this business will not float (1)

kubitus (927806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33839384)

not because they can not make it

-

it takes a sphere of 66m Diameter filled with H2 to get a lift of 150 t.

The H2 hull is surrounded by another hull filled with He to minimize H2 combustion risc

and catalysts oxidize escaped H2 safely outside, and diffused O2 inside the H2 hull

-

the reason it will not be made is that a balloon technologfy like that would allow the construction of a stratospheric radar platform which would be capable to discover stealth aircraft and low altitude flying cruise missile.

-

This will not be allowed!

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