I think we should bring back zeppelins to replace aeroplanes. Hear me out...
• Uses hydrogen for lift, which can easily be produced by electrolysing water using photovoltaic energy
• Can be driven by electric motors, which are much more efficient than any combustion engine
• Lots of area for thin film solar panels to power them
• Can be designed in ways to prevent potential Hindenburg-like incidents
• Air travel without huge CO2 emissions
• Quieter and less hazardous to birds
Travel by zeppelin would take longer, of course. But the only reason why air travel needs to be fast at all is for business types who need to get where they're going in a hurry, and for people who only get a few days of time off from work.
Perhaps it's idealistic of me, but I think a post-capitalist society should alleviate both of those problems.
@InvaderXan wasn't the hindenburg disaster so bad because of the paint or something?
Something like that, yes. I forget the details, but filling a big empty bag with flammable stuff and then coating it with flammable stuff may not have been the wisest choice.
@InvaderXan this just came up on my notifications again and given the whole wal-mart/tesla thing recently
"Lots of area for thin film solar panels to power them"
@InvaderXan how perfectly auspicious!
@InvaderXan ya know I think there could be a market for modern zeppelins even now! Like it might be too small to do anything and there is no ethical production under capitalism but still. If it's marketed as a cheaper and greener alternative to plane travel maybe it could be a thing?
I'd like to think so. And honestly, we don't need to fix every problem in the world all at once. Right now, climate-related damage control should really be the first priority iMO. If there are ways to do that even with our current society, I think we should at least try.
@InvaderXan okay so potential problem!!!! from what I remember we've pretty much solved or at least greatly reduced the risk from the flammable hydrogen gas, but what about wind and storms and shit? at least with the old tech, zeppelins could n o t handle that.
@InvaderXan The business types can do videolink meetings in their mothers basements.
After all, it *is* the 21st century now...
@InvaderXan if you can be slow, boat would be an option. But Zeppelins are a good step faster then that.
@InvaderXan I would *love* to see Zeppelins replace fixed-wing aircraft - but I'm not really convinced by the "could be powered by electric motors" equation [Fermi-estimation alert]: VLCCs have a larger surface area and only travel at about 15 knots, but require orders of magnitude more power for propulsion than they could get through PV cells - Zeppelins couldn't possibly be orders-of-magnitude more efficient, can they?
@InvaderXan Also: wouldn't you need to capture (approx.) twice the energy required for propulsion, hotel services, etc. and store half of it in batteries for the night-time? If so - and if this is even possible - I think given the current state of battery technology it'd probs. take up too much of the Zeppelin's payload capacity.
@InvaderXan I completely agree (I'm a Zeppelin fan, actually went to the Zeppelin measum in Germany).
OMG there's a zeppelin museum? I... should visit this place, I think.
@InvaderXan there is on Lake Constance (found it by chance because have family ties to the region).
@InvaderXan more pros:
-sick as hell
-cool as shit
-who the hell wouldn't want to ride in a zeppelin
Also, unlike planes, they are too fragile to make war!
(which is one of the main reason their development stopped, as far as I understood)
@InvaderXan i'm not against airships, but i'm sceptical of a lot of the stuff here
people focus on the hydrogen aspect and whether or not that caused the hindenburg crash
but the hindenburg wasn't the only airship disaster, or the biggest, theres quite a few https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airship_accidents
now the hydrogen issue can be fixed, possible by your honeycomb idea, although this would increase weight, or by using another lifting gas, there are several apart for hydrogen and helium, although they are all less effective and some have other disadvantages https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifting_gas
but there are also other issues, airships are by there nature relatively underpowered and susceptible to being blown about, several crashes happened because of being blown about in storms, technology is better now, but the necessity of keeping everything as light as possible limits how powerful they can be
they also have no resistance to lighting, while planes generally cope with lightning well
i would be surprised if solar panels could provided enough power to power them, i suspect it would be better to collect the power on the ground and charge them there, although they do have a lot of surface area
i think heaver than air aircraft can be power by similarly environmental friendly methods, and could be built the be quieter, and of course trains are quite fast and efficient
The LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin had a diameter of ~30.5 m and a length of 236.6 m. Approximating it as a cylinder gives a surface area of over 22000 m^2.
High quality thin film solar cells have an efficiency of about 20%, producing approximately 200 W/m^2. With just under a quarter of that zeppelin's area covered in solar panelling, it could theoretically generate one megawatt at peak efficiency, if my numbers are correct.
That's the power budget of ten automobiles to push a huge gas bag through the air at a reasonable speed.
More of a concern would be storms - zeppelins were and would be incredibly vulnerable to them. Thunderstorms are too dangerous for jet aircraft to fly through. Mostly we avoid storms by flying over them, but that's not an option for zeppelins.
1,980 kW max or 1,600 kW normal, so 1MW is about half max or 2/3 normal, so it could significantly extend the range, although it would be desirable to have more powerful motors to deal with wind better
advances in propeller/fan may mean more can be achieved with less power
the lower weight of modern electric motors of equivalent power output to the 1930s diesel engines could be significant if the mass of batteries didn't balance it out
if we then take the highter specific energy/kg here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_polymer_battery 265 W·h/kg
we need 107200 kWh / 0.265 = 404528 kg = 404 t
if we assume it gets half its poer from solar thats still 202 tonnes of battery
fuel cells might be more practical
It's been all the rage after the Rio conference, but attempts at making a viable business out of them failed miserably...
@InvaderXan @taziden They are still built in small numbers. Nowadays they are usually semi-rigid (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-rigid_airship). The problem is that they are huge and slow and accidents are not rare.
@InvaderXan Oh fuck yes. Crimson Skies but solarpunk? I’m DOWN
@InvaderXan So, Zeppelins are impressive, but have numerous challenges.
Hydrogen, simply put, is exceedingly dangerous.
Airships handle very poorly in even modestly high winds. Several losses occurred in storms.
Profitable operation, *even under military deployments*, where cost concerns are reduced, has proved elusive.
Storage and mooring costs are high -- wth great volume comes ... voluminous hangers. (See Moffit Field, near Mountain View, CA.)
Interesting, but unlikely.
@dredmorbius @InvaderXan I hear all your - undoubtedly factually correct - points about Zeppelins, but we should still have Zeppelins hanging in the sky as a reminder that people can do ridiculously unlikely things that sometimes actually work. :)
Also, I would be up to a luxurious oceanic voyage of a week as an alternative to spending a day in a aluminum tube being shot through the stratosphere.
@tsturm You can take that transatlantic voyage by seaship far more viably.
@dredmorbius ...but by airship much more stylishly. 😅
I'm fairly certain aeroplanes were once subject to all of these same criticisms, quite frankly...
@InvaderXan Aeroplanes proved themselves, and quickly.
First flight was 1903, commercial service began in 1909, and in just over 30 years, an aircraft *still in commercial use today*, the DC-3, had been developed.
Airships remain a challenge 116 years later. Some problems are hard.
Appeal to alternatives doesn't solve hard problems.
The main reason they remain a challenge is that one of these two technologies has had substantially more development, in both civilian and military contexts, frequently with the aim of maximising profitability.
You would be wise not to conflate hard problems with under-explored problems.
@dredmorbius @InvaderXan ...and more seriously, in the very long run, we might have to use airships for transoceanic voyages since we can't afford to pump half a ton of kerosene into the atmosphere per butt in a seat for every crossing.
Airships might be slower, but still are faster than ships and can be powered completely by solar, from hydrogen production to propulsion.
@tsturm Five days by sailboat:
58 hours (2 days, 10h) by powerboat. Commercial service under 4 days was attainable.
@tsturm Zeppelins took ~70 - 100 hours, by comparison, though Hindenberg hit 43h2m. With very considerable variance.
@dredmorbius @InvaderXan I should probably add that I've some experience with slow travel. I've done the Transsiberian and also a Yangtze river boat for the full length nonstop among others.
It's not for everybody for sure, but especially nowadays with Internet everywhere I wouldn't even hesitate to go on a boat for a week.
We had the BAP Unión here in town a week ago and I stood in front of it. It's about ten meters shorter than the Preußen, and I can tell you that is one hell of a big ship.
Also, the Unión is only five years old. Ships like that are still being made! :)
@tsturm For a modern take, see the Maltese Falcon
Star Flyer is more traditional.
Commercial windjammers operated INTO THE 1950s. Very long-haul routes. Fuel costs money.
Sunbeam City is a Libertarian Socialist solarpunk instance. It is ran democratically by a cooperative of like-minded individuals.