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 | | 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 ")

Musk Tweets A Boring Tunnel Pic
'We hit the sub-basement and went at once to the express tubes...' - Robert Heinlein, 1956.

Tesla Electric Automatobus Prototype Spotted?
Those buses need to feed on something.

easyJet Short-Haul Electric Jets
Have a little faith, will you? They're working on it.

Hyperloop One Video Shows It Works!
'Complete evacuation of the interior of the tubes [and] a wave that provides the new propulsive energy for the cars...' Hard Vincent, 1929.



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

Save Your Brain's Connectome, Upload Yourself Elsewhere
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'

TMS Decreases Belief In God, Increases Belief In Immigrants
'... setting up the same currents, the same basic ideas, in them all.'

Loomo Mini Transporter Robot Companion You Ride On
'Slowly the [robot] horse raised its head, wiggled its ears, blinked twice, gave a tentative whinny.'

Soft Robotics - Now With 3D Printed Sensors!
'A series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce the amount of pressure necessary to snap a bone...'

AI Tool Lynx Insight And The Cybernetic Newsroom
'The structure,... was once a great homeostatic newspaper, the New York Times. It printed itself directly below us...'

Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.'

Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'

Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'

IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'

HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...'

Ultrathin Brain Needle Developed At MIT
Putting drugs into a selected cubic millimeter within the living brain.

Tesla Semi Truck Now At Work
Why wait? Tesla Semi now hard at work.

Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...'

Scaly Yet Soft Robotic Snake
Love those robotic sneks.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

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

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.