Intelligent Energy

Could blimps replace cargo planes within 10 years?

Could blimps replace cargo planes within 10 years?

Posting in Energy

Lower fuel costs? Check. More storage space? Check. Less greenhouse-gas emissions? Check. If blimps do it better, will they be able to do it soon?

Two weeks ago I discussed how huge military airships may soon perform reconnaissance missions over Afghanistan. Ah war, people often ask, what is it good for? But blimps? Blimps are good for lots of things, potentially.

The previous post's comment section made some nice suggestions: cargo transportation, surveying natural disaster areas (ex. the Haiti earthquake), temporary communication stations, and of course, advertising space.

Sir David King agrees with many of them.

The renowned scientist, speaking at the World Forum of Enterprise and Environment held at Oxford University, predicted that airships might begin replacing cargo planes and other aircraft within ten years.

Juliette Jowit of The Guardian writes:

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.

King reportedly cited estimates from airship developer World SkyCat that a modern-day blimp would emit 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions while it hauled twice the amount of strawberries between Britain and Spain.

This makes me wonder if the carbon-easy transportation would revolutionize a locavore's food-mile equations. Hmm, I'm not sure, but a mass swapping of planes for viable airships sounds dreamy.

I hope they they work.

Related on SmartPlanet:

Image: World SkyCat
Via: Cleantechnica

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Melissa Mahony

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Melissa Mahony has written for Scientific American Mind, Audubon Magazine, Plenty Magazine and LiveScience. Formerly, she was an editor at Wildlife Conservation magazine. She holds degrees from Boston College and New York University's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure