Feeds

'Huge airships to carry freight starting 10 years from now'

Ex UK.gov top boffin's amazing claim

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

'Zeppelin explodes in New Jersey: Not many dead'

The Hindenburg, on fire and doomed above Lakehurst

Oh, the uncertain amount of humanity

In classic Grauniad style, Observer environment editor Juliette Jowit writes:

Massive helium balloons – or blimps1 – would replace aircraft ... helium-powered2 ships could be carrying freight – and even passengers – in as little as a decade's time ... with a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions ...

In 1929 a graf zeppelin3 circumnavigated the planet in just over 21 days. The [pre-WWII] craze for blimps came to an abrupt halt after the death of many people when the Hindenburg caught fire4 in New Jersey, US.

Reading so many errors in such a short piece is painful, but even so we here on the Reg airship desk love the idea of a comeback by big proper aerial vessels. And hey, actual real boffins are saying it's on the cards!

Even better, Sir David and a couple of his colleagues at Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment have done a study into the matter, which can theoretically be read in pdf here. We found the Smith School download a bit troublesome, so you may want to read it courtesy of Google Docs like this.

Unfortunately the Smith School report is short on hard analysis and long on misty speculation. It does admit that most of today's airline passengers, accustomed to moving about the world at close to the speed of sound, are unlikely to settle for typical airship speeds of 70 or 80 mph. Then in the case of cargo, rather more than half of all air freight today is carried aboard passenger flights - there would be little point shifting this to other platforms.

So we're down to say 40 per cent of air freight as our maximum possible scope. Air freight is thought to be responsible for maybe 20-25 per cent of aviation's carbon emissions. We might get rid, though, of 90 per cent of that by using airships instead of planes.

Whoa there - that figure of 90 per cent comes from would-be airship maker SkyCat. In a test case examining a notional shipment of Spanish strawberries to the UK, they admit that the actual fuel burn saving of using an airship would only be 40 per cent. The airshipheads go on to say, however, that because an airship flies at much lower altitudes than a modern jet its emissions cause less global warming - so the CO2equivalence is down by 90 per cent.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.