If you have ever seen a blimp in the sky the Hindenburg disaster in
1937 may have crossed your mind. It's a terrible and scary story. The
kind of story that makes a person never want to ride one of these
things, but blimps have come a long way since then. In fact, recently a
group of French engineers equipped a helium blimp with solar panels.
This innovative blimp, designed and built by group of French engineers and led by INSA Lyon and ESSEC Business School, is called Nephelios and it uses solar power to fuel the blimp. In a few weeks Nephelios will be tested by a group of French engineers and flown across the English Channel at Strait of Dover. This flight should take less then an hour if successful.
The 72 feet long blimp construction consists of a frame made from aluminum frame, an outer wrap made from nylon and polyethylene, and on top attached to the fabric are several flexible solar panels. These flexible solar panels can generate 2.4 kW of power, enough energy to propel this 72-foot long blimp, 18 foot in diameter at a rate of 25 mph. To do the solar panels power a small motor on the blimp that then powers to large red propellers.
The purpose: there are no plans to take this commercially. All Projet Sol’R wants to do is show that blimp flight by solar power can be done and that it can be flown with zero emissions. For more information on this solar blimp innovation visit the Projet Sol’R website.
Via Inhabitat and Wired