Could Blimps Replace Planes For Cargo?

Could slow-moving but efficient blimps replace air planes for moving cargo around the world? The British government's former chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir David King, now director of the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford, recently told a conference that massive helium balloons or blimps would replace aircraft as a key part of the global trade network as a way of cutting global warming emissions.


(Airship freight carrier by German company CargoLifter)

"There are an awful lot of people we talk to who say this is going to happen," said King. "This is something I believe is going to happen."

Airships would be too slow for some high-speed airfreight, and would not be needed to carry the majority of cargo for which much slower ships are suitable. But with a speed of 125kph (78mph), and much lower fuel costs, plus a carrying capacity potentially many times that of a standard Boeing 747 plane, blimps could in future carry much of current air freight.

A recent report on mobility by the Smith School, for example, quoted an estimate by one developer, UK-owned SkyCat, that it could carry twice the weight of strawberries from Spain to the UK of a standard cargo plane, with a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, much of which is from avoiding the huge fuel burn a jet engine uses to take off.

Science fiction writers still like blimps, even though they've declined in popularity over the last eighty years. For example, see this excerpt from Paolo Bacigalupi's excellent 2010 novel The Windup Girl:

At the next anchor pad, 200 meters away, megadonts scream as they drag cargo out of a dirigible's belly and pile the shipment for sorting and Customs approval. Turbofans gust and surge, stabilizing the vast airship anchored overhead. The balloon lists and spins...

Fans of Jerry Pournelle may recall the Skyhook from his 1976 story West of Honor.

Float gently into the future with these recent blimp-related stories:

From the Guardian.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/1/2010)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 5 )

Related News Stories - (" Transportation ")

Griff 300 Octocopter Carries You And Friend
'The cab came floating down out of the sky...' - James Blish, 1957.

British Airways To Offer An Ingestible Sensor To Passengers
The modern way to get feedback from passengers.

Vahana, The Airbus Flying Taxi
'The cab came floating down out of the sky at the intersection.'

Hi-Yo Modobag! Away!
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity...' - Robert Heinlein, 1941.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

PassivDom 3D Printed House - What If You Could Live Anywhere?
'The houses are prefabricated units...'

Breakthrough In Manufacture Of Red Blood Cells
This blood's for you!

Caihong Solar-Powered Drone 'Atmospheric Satellite'
'... placed in the wings of a plane to generate power from the light falling on that surface.'

NASA Wants Low Earth Orbit Wifi
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'

Is Genetic Testing At Businesses A Bad Idea?
It's not a topic that fares well in science fiction movies-

Wearable Smart Jacket
He pressed the button in his sleeve communicator and snapped: 'Action stations!'

Store One Bit On One Atom
'...each individual molecule has a meaning.'

Fluorescent Bacteria Fashion
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'

When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'

Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'

Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'

Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'

The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'

Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.