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DailyDirt: Impractically-Powered Planes

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Some methods of flying are better than others. Passenger comfort isn't always the top priority for some aircraft, and that's especially true when engineers are trying out really novel designs and propulsion ideas. Here are just a few examples of some new planes that aren't quite ready for commercial flight, but that look really cool on the drawing board. By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.


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  1.  
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    abc gum, Nov 1st, 2011 @ 5:12pm

    "Passenger comfort isn't always the top priority"

    I hear ya.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2011 @ 7:03pm

    The problem with airplanes powered by nuclear(Nuclear Aircraft) is shielding this was what made them impractical in the 60's, the Russians flown one and it killed all the pilots according to some accounts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_aircraft
    http://www.aviation-history.com/articles /nuke-american.htm

    It was a time when people were scared, both Americans and Russians were trying to outdo each other and the Russians had no value for life.

     

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  3.  
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    Drew Farkas (profile), Nov 1st, 2011 @ 10:44pm

    Solar Airship/plane hybrid

    This post reminded of something I saw recently that intrigued me. Plus it's in the final stages of development.
    http://green.autoblog.com/2011/10/22/solar-ship-sails-the-skies-schlepps-supplies/

     

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  4.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 12:29am

    Ironic Musings

    Suddenly terrorism may not seem so bad compared to a low temperature superconductor quenching mid flight due to some brief turbulence. If the cooling system on one of those goes off, it'll take the whole wing with it. BLEVE's don't have to be hot to do some severe damage.

     

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  5.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 12:40am

    Re:

    With the designs around today, shielding should no longer be a problem. Shielding was inadequate in the 60's because the reactors were oversized to compensate for low power consumption efficiency, and shielding is heavy. Nowadays, reactor designs the size of a large trashcan are viable. They may still be heavy, but a competent company would have a tough time arguing against losing a couple passengers in exchange for virtually no refueling time.

    To explain a bit further, even if the reactor can not sustain the maximum instantaneous power required during a typical flight (take-off being the big power hog), there are plenty of means to store excess energy during periods of low power consumption (taxiing, cruising, initial landing approach) as electrical/chemical/mechanical energy. In fact, operating the reactor with less variance in power demand by using such an external energy capacitor is often desirable as it introduces fewer overall deviations from nominal design conditions to the system.

     

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  6.  
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    Michael Ho (profile), Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 1:11am

    Re: Solar Airship/plane hybrid

    That's a pretty cool airship... but I'm not sure that advertising it as "fast" is the right way to go. It's a big solar-powered helium balloon -- it's not going to be too swift compared to jets.

     

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  7.  
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    Bergman (profile), Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 3:24am

    Nikola Tesla envisioned a model for electrical distribution that, had it been implemented, would have inevitably led to aircraft with electric motors to spin propellers, but no fuel or batteries on board the plane itself.

    I imagine sooner or later, the FAA would have required at least a small backup battery to allow the plane to safely land if the broadcast power tower failed, but it wouldn't take much of a battery to power a plane for 5 minutes or so.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 4:01am

    Re: Re:

    What happens if one of those fall from the sky, would the shielding be strong enough to protect the core? Will it maintain integrity on prolonged exposure to heat like in a fire.
    Did they managed to make a truly closed system, last I heard it was not that simple, doable but not practical not even today.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 4:06am

    About energy production I can see some cheap airlines having to rethink the strategy of having less loo's.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-11-urine-cheaper-electricity.html

     

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  10.  
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    abc gum, Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 4:19am

    Re: Re:

    "a competent company would have a tough time arguing against losing a couple passengers in exchange for virtually no refueling time."

    This is the measure of competency these days ... oh wait, this is sarcasm - right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Michael Ho (profile), Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    Considering that lots of folks are still worried about burying waste from nuclear power plants in deep underground facilities, I'm pretty sure a *flying* nuclear power plant would be a bit outside the acceptable risk tolerances for the general public...

    But maybe it's possible for military planes since there are plenty of nuclear-powered submarines.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "a competent company would have a tough time arguing against having the engine be slightly heavier, to the point where the plane's carrying capacity is reduced by a couple passengers in exchange for virtually no refueling time."

    Better?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2011 @ 1:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nuclear-powered submarines are roomier and they don't have the same weight constraints or safety concerns that planes do.

    A sub nuclear reactor is 2 to 4 stories high.

    http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/eng/reactor-image3.gif
    http://www.fas.org/man/dod- 101/sys/ship/eng/reactor.html

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2011 @ 1:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Maybe drones can use it, but it would cut into the payload capacity.

    Also the military have nightmares on the liability of those things in case of accidents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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