Cargo zeppelins, transport of the future?

There is still plenty of space above ground. Much less infrastructure is needed for freight zeppelins than for other transport.

About twelve percent of all world trade goes through the Suez Canal. In March 2021, the world was reminded of this in an uneasy way. A sand storm then parked the giant container ship Ever Given across the canal. The result: all traffic through the Suez Canal stopped for a week. Weeks after the incident, shipping traffic is still disrupted. The blockade of the canal threw up the tight schedules considerably.

Cargo zeppelins, the pros and cons

There are no such problems with air transport, although volcanic eruptions, for example, can throw ash into the air. The reason that governments and companies are now increasingly seriously investigating cargo zeppelins. Those are blimpsspecially designed for freight transportation. Cargo Zeppelins may be slow, but they don't need an airport on the ground. Their energy consumption is also much lower than that of airplanes. The volume of the gas in the zeppelin provides the lift. Not flowing air.

A large cargo plane, such as a Jumbojet or Airbus 350, can carry around 150 tons of payload. The Airlander 50, now in production, can only carry 60 tons. This at a much lower speed of around 150 km per hour. However, the energy consumption of the Airlander 50 is only a fraction of that of a cargo plane. And, very importantly, no runway is required. That makes cargo zeppelins very useful for transport in remote areas, where there are no roads or airports. For example for forestry and mining.

An Airlander blimp over Hong Kong. Are Freight Zeppelins the Transportation of the Future? Source / copyright: press material

Replacement for other transport?

The question is whether freight zeppelins can take care of large-scale freight transport. Compare the aforementioned 60 tons and a cruising speed of around 150 km per hour with the maximum 50 tons and the slightly lower speed of a truck. The aircraft are interesting for supplying small islands, settlements in the wilderness and oil rigs. Or for exceptional transport. From a transport point of view, they are a somewhat unwieldy and expensive type of trucks that can reach all over the world. If the wind is not too strong. Freight zeppelins will therefore not quickly become a replacement for mainstream transport. Nevertheless, there are certainly valuable applications for it in many niche markets.

6 thoughts on “Vrachtzeppelins, vervoer van de toekomst?”

  1. Intercessor

    Eerst effe waterstof kernfusie realiseren dan komt er genoeg helium voor.
    En onder de grond is ook nog ruimte zat voor hyperloops of gewoon vrachtmetrotreinen.
    Maar daar zijn dure tunnels voor nodig.

    1. In vacuüm werkt het lichter-dan-lucht principe niet meer waardoor zeppelins blijven zweven. Tenzij je met krachtvelden het vacuüm in stand kan houden. Maar dat zou zoveel energie vergen, dat het dan slimmer is om een helikopter te bouwen.

  2. Waarschijnlijk gebruikte men heel vroeger (al) geluid om dingen te laten zweven. Ze zijn nu ook bezig met phonons die (in theorie) massa blijken te hebben en negative aantrekkingskracht. De technologie schijnt nog niet ver genoeg te zijn om dit te meten etc.

    1. Intercessor

      Als die deeltjes energie hebben dan hebben ze relativistische massa net als fotonen.
      Daarom kunnen de massaloze fotonen niet uit een zwart gat ontsnappen.
      Massaloze deeltjes zonder energie heeft de zwaartekracht geen vat op.

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