The future of freight is solar-powered airships

Date:18 October 2019 Author: Leila Stein Tags:

A UK based company have created a solar-powered airship as an alternative to CO2 heavy freight cargo shipping.

According to Big Think, the ship built by Varialift Airships, would only use 8% of the fuel of a conventional aeroplane on a trip between the UK and the US.

While airships have a bad reputation because of infamous crashes like the Hindenburg, this cargo transportation ship is an update on these older versions. It’s not filled with hydrogen and will use helium gas to take off instead. It’s built with aluminium frames and is powered by two solar engines and two conventional jet engines.

The ship’s website claims that it will be able to carry loads that range from 50 to 250 tonnes, with the possibility of larger models managing payloads of up to 3,000 tonnes.

The downside of the ship is that its reliance on solar power means it can only fly in the day time and will move much slower than an aeroplane, flying at speeds of 250-350 km/h.

The manufacturers say that the airships are cheap to build and will cost “80-90% less than the equivalent payload aircraft to purchase and operate.”

This is in part because the airship does not need special airstrip infrastructure since it takes off vertically like a hot air balloon.

While it may take time to adopt, this is one of the most practical solutions offered to an industry that relies heavily on fuel to operate.

“Currently there is no significant alternative logistics service offering zero carbon emissions, so we expect this feature to appeal to a significant and growing segment of the “green” consumer market,” said Varialift Airship website.

Image: Varialift Airships/ Facebook

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