The return of the airship – from THE WEEK
Transportation is now the biggest single source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, having recently passed electricity generation. Worse, zero-carbon transportation technology is only in its early stages — especially for air travel and shipping, which accounts for large and growing share of emissions.
Steampunk fans and climate hawks alike want to know: what about airships? After investigating the subject for a time, I’ve come to a tentative conclusion that airships could indeed play an important role in a zero-carbon transportation infrastructure — but probably not in the form of romantic luxury travel. Big and weird cargo shipping might just be where the airship does best.
Airships are, of course, aircraft which use a large envelope of lighter-than-air gas, typically hydrogen or helium, to provide most or all of their lift. There are three basic types: non-rigid (a blimp), or semi-rigid (with a partial supporting structure), or rigid (with a complete supporting structure). There is also the hybrid airship, which is slightly heavier than air and uses traditional wings or rotors to provide lift and control.
Read original article by Ryan Cooper here: