The Zeppelins could return to carry goods with a solar engine.
Airships are now considered a more environmentally friendly form of transportation.
A solar-powered airship built by UK-based Varialift Airships could be used as a form of low-emission international freight transport.
According to the CEO of the company, Alan Handley, the plane will be able to make a transatlantic flight from the UK to the US, consuming only 8% of the fuel of a normal aircraft. It will be powered by a pair of solar motors and two conventional jet engines.
While the lack of an on-board battery would limit travel during daylight hours and its speed will only be about half that of a Boeing 747, Varialift’s Zeppelin promises to be very useful for transporting goods.
Its designers claim that it will be able to transport loads ranging from 50 to 250 tonnes. Larger models with payloads of up to 3000 tonnes are also not excluded. Large loads, such as utility poles, blades and wind turbine towers, or even prefabricated structures, such as oil rigs, can be carried below using cables. This means that the load will have a weight limit, but not a size limit.
Since it is an airship, which takes off more like a balloon than an airplane, the Varialift airship could also be useful in this capacity as it does not require a runway for them. This could make it even more valuable as a delivery vehicle in places with poor infrastructure.
Varialift has not yet started building its production model. However, a prototype 459 feet long, 85 feet wide and 85 feet high is currently under construction in France. New scientist notes that it will be completed within the next nine months.
More information: www.varialift.com