If you think the idea of airships is full of hot air, you may be in for a surprise as the newest Aeros zeppelin might be coming to a sky near you in 2013. In an effort to reduce fuel and helium usage on airships and blimps, the company, headed by Igor Pasternak, is testing a project called Pelican. Currently, maintaining buoyancy is the problem facing these airships, as they are controlled by burning an exorbitant amount of fuel to do so. The Pelican project claims to use compression to control the gas, and thus control buoyancy more effectively and efficiently.
To offset weight,airships (blimps) use fuel that is lighter than air- usuallyhelium, counterbalanced with cargo or weight to maintain control. The ship’s weight is reduced as fuel burns, creating an imbalance, and sending the ship further into the atmosphere. To stay at a cruising level, the ship must then release expensive helium/fuel into the atmosphere. Therein lies the problem- continuous wasted fuel, just to maintain altitude.
Rather than wasting precious helium, Aeros has created a compression system, called Control of Static Heaviness, or COSH. The ships are built with a rigid airframe surrounded by a membrane. Within the membrane are pressurized helium tanks, which can vary weight by turning the pressure up or down to make them heavier or lighter.
Should this work, the pressurized tanks could diminish the need for the excess fuel that is burned to change a ship’s weight at variant intervals. Aeros’ Pelican ship, a 230 foot long, 600,000 cubic foot vehicle, will be tested with this pressurized COSH system in 2012-2013. Funded by the Pentagon’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office, the project c is likely to be used in the military.