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.
- A solar-powered plane prototype was demonstrated at the Paris Airshow. Unfortunately, the plane requires almost windless conditions to fly, and it’s not too fast. But it *can* stay aloft almost indefinitely (greater than 24 hours so far). [url]
- The VoltAir is an all-electric plane concept with superconducting (!) electric motors… “VoltAir is an upstream research concept, not a near-term commercial approach.” Duh. [url]
- If superconducting electric motors seem plausible, then using a low-energy nuclear reactor (LENR) to power a plane is just around the corner. I’d like a Mr. Fusion generator for my DeLorean, too. [url]
- To discover more cool sites about aviation, check out what’s currently flying around StumbleUpon. [url]
By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.
Filed Under: electic, flying, lenr, nuclear, planes, solar, superconducting, voltair
Comments on “DailyDirt: Impractically-Powered Planes”
“Passenger comfort isn’t always the top priority”
I hear ya.
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.
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.
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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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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“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?
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“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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
Solar Airship/plane hybrid
This post reminded of something I saw recently that intrigued me. Plus it’s in the final stages of development.
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.
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.
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.
About energy production I can see some cheap airlines having to rethink the strategy of having less loo’s.