X Prize offered for aviation fuel replacement:
X Prize offered for aviation fuel replacement:
Place your bets:
1) Biodiesel from algae.
4) Batteries (silicon nanowires, EEstor, etc.).
5) None of the above.
I put my dollar on biodiesel because it can be used in all existing planes and algae can produce unlimited supplies all over the world. That and Virgin already had a successful biodiesel flight test.
I can see bio-diesel being an additive, but not a full replacement.
With aircraft moving to carbon fiber for it's light weight, strength and long life, I think it makes more sense to load up with compressed or liquid hydrogen, given its high specific energy compared to other fuels.
Other than small personal aircraft, I don't see batteries alone penetrating the aviation market, but there have been a few fuel cell aircraft already entering that space, again making hydrogen the more likely fuel.
Some may call me nuts, but if the fuel crisis continues, then I see rigid airships or hybrid airships taking over, since they would have the most fuel flexibility of any other option. They can travel for long periods of time with the most fuel efficiency. They can go about 100MPH, which is slower than jets, but much faster than by sea. And helium airships are extremely safe and durable.
There have been a lot of recent pushes toward reviving the airship. In 2006, the Navy began flying airships again. Around 2000, a German company built the worlds largest airship hangar outside of Berlin (but they ran out of money and never built the airship itself, the CL-160). We are still making medium sized semi-rigid airships as observation and advertisement craft. High-altitude airships are being built for missile defense (that way they can honor treaties that ban star-wars type defense). Lockheed Martin is building a hybrid too called the P-791.
Last edited by kubel; 07-23-2008 at 05:31 PM.
"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." ~James Madison
I'm going way out on a limb here and predicting that the current aircraft fleet will disappear almost as quickly as the 707 replaced the DC-7 back in the early 60's. Now everyone can take a crack at me, but if I'm right, the world is about to change.
I predict that burning fuel to fly may soon become an expensive and unnecessary luxury. I think that anti-gravity may be just around the corner. This is an old web page from Jane's, but it hints at what's happening in the aircraft industry.
I posted a thread about using the Skysails towing kite as a means to propel airships. Considering the drag of an airship through the air is much less than the drag of a cargo ship through the ocean, they would likely travel at a very good speed on skysails alone.
I believe much of the air freight carried today could easily be transferred to mag lev trains in evacuated tubes, which would travel several hundred miles per hour using much less energy than high speed trains today.
Those are just two stretch ideas I have for how to handle future needs that are currently met by jet planes.
It is totally stupid to start thinking about replacing fuel for aviation.
When we start replacing the fuel the car, then there is plenty of oil for aviation for another 50 years.
If you have a big problem, start with the parts that can be easily solved. Changing fuel for car is much easier than for a plane.
Furthermore, in the USA 1 million barrels of oil still go to heating. Those can be replaced by heating pumps, or with with deep geothermic, or with solar collectors (with the addition of some wood). This is totally cost competitive.
1 million barrels a day, is 125 million dollar a day, is 45 billion a year. Yes! I took some away of Pickens 700 billion. Not as much as he want to do, but 45 billion is not nothing.
The simple things have already started. Now, people are looking ahead to the harder problems. Every industry that consumes petroleum must be considering alternative sources which are renewable.
I also think hydrogen is a good fit for jets. The only concern is that they leave a huge vapor trail and some feel this may cause a problem when every plane is doing that. I don't see how but...
If EEstor does deliver on it's promises we will just go that route. Fast electric transcontinental aircraft will then be possible due to the reductions in weight and massive energy storage capacity. I'm just putting that on the back burner because that would be the ultimate solution. Zero emissions, quiet, safe, renewable, fast, etc. The Russians already have developed propeller technology for massive bombers and passenger aircraft. It would be easy to adapt that technology to electric drive. Check out the details: