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Airship push-pop!

Vertical airship designed to transport wind turbine blades
  [vote for,

One of the issues that is being found with wind turbines is that they need to get bigger to be more efficient, but the places where they need to be built don't have the infrastructure capable of handling the movement of these massive blades. Which means they need to come in by some other means.

My solution is an airship that flies with a vertical structure rather than a horizontal structure. The blades would then be mounted to an inner frame around an open core, similar to a hyperbolic water tower <link>. The outer shape of the airship would be in whatever is the most efficient for this orientation, perhaps like a wingsail. With a strong structure the propulsion would be in multiple locations along the vertical sides, rather than just on a single horizontal place.

The operational idea is that at the factory there will be a giant cylinder to lift the blades after construction and secure them vertically along the cylinder. The airship would then come down and envelop then entire setup. This would then allow the airship to attach to the ground securely, and then have cable stays to secure the topmost part to the ground. The airship will then not move with the wind, nor change orientation during loading. This is very different than most airships that use a single mooring and rotate with the wind, or require massive hangers. The blades will be transferred to the internal structure of the airship with a crane that slides from ground structure to airship. At this point the ground stays are released and the airship is pushed up and off the ground pole for take off.

At the turbine installation site, the mounting pole is built as usual though now with ground hooks for the incoming airship. The airship then lands and the reverse of the above procedure is performed. This total process should be faster with less impact on the infrastructure from factory to site, as well as allowing unlimited length of blades (depending on lift of airship).

As an addition to really take it just a bit over the top, the ship also carries the hub and the exterior of the airship can split in half. Why?

Because then the hub can be installed with the airship docked, as well as each blade one by one, with the blades sticking out the sides of the ship as the installation proceeds.

As it lifts off, everyone will be thinking,"That's the biggest damn push-pop I've ever seen!"

unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019

hyperboloid water tower https://i.pinimg.co...daa568e9066d354.jpg
hyperboloid water tower [unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019]

Wing sail https://www.sailmag...eablewingsail00.jpg
inflatable wing sail [unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019]

A push-pop https://media1.teno....gif?itemid=6222891
in case you've never heard of one [unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019]

Transporting blades story https://www.houston...oes-the-6840315.php
Current way uses 3 days per blade, my way beats that. [unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019]

Gyrocopter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autogyro
[unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019]


       Wind turbine nacelle 71-75 tons, LM-H1 payload 21 tons. A new extra-massive balloon lift technology will be needed. I won't be holding my breath.   

       Now an inflatable wind turbine, that's another idea.
wjt, Jul 13 2019

       [wjt], so you chose an 85-metre-long airship as your example? Brilliant!   

       Airships get better lift when they get bigger, heck the Hindenburg was 245 meters long, 3 times as long as your example. We could easily go larger with modern materials and the proper motivation, like getting better turbines.   

       And inflatable turbines sound great until they break loose, which they will.
unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019

       A problem to be addressed is that these turbines seem to be located on sites where it's quite windy a lot of the time.   

       Guiding a very large airship with the precision required to attach a blade to a hub in windy conditions sounds like a good game.
8th of 7, Jul 13 2019

       [8th of 7], that's the point of having it land with the main mast being fitted internally. Maneuvering a regular airship in those conditions would be quite exciting, and yet some have thought to do it. As a sailor, there is no way I'd want to try and battle that much wind.   

       With my idea, everything is secured and out of the wind. Even the outlandish ending is about mounting the hub and blades inside of the airship before splitting the ship apart to launch.   

       And I added a gif of a push-pop, in case folks weren't familiar with the concept.
unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019

       Only current real tech. True, the Hindenburg has 255.75 tons lift weight, 4X approx the fully constructed weight of a wind turbine without mast. But with that shape and weight, vertical is a tall order.A turbine with folding blades and a conventional blimp may be better Maybe a blimp, wind turbine hybrid can get itself to the installation site.
wjt, Jul 13 2019

       "real tech"? A Hindenburg design is absolutely real tech. The only reason they aren't currently being made is because there is no reason for airships, especially of that size. What I propose is a single purpose airship. It doesn't carry passengers or any other cargo, just turbine parts and crew. The modern airship designs are trying to make a multipurpose vehicle, which means they don't do certain things well, and they still use horizontal loading and unloading. Which means they are going to sail around on the ground as the wind direction changes.   

       As for using a blimp, there are a couple of issues. Firstly, blimps are limited in size since they only use gas pressure to maintain shape. Flying a monstrous 200m one would be very difficult. Also, Blimps are by definition soft with no internal structure, this thing would have a central skeleton so that it remains stable while loading and unloading of the parts. Nothing else could do that, except maybe a very large helicopter but that would suffer from massive downdraft issues as it tries to hover and unload in the wind conditions that are found where turbines are installed. A vertical body shape won't be the most efficient for moving things around the world, but around a country? Especially since the current system puts the blades onto the back of a semi and tries to drive through every small town and up the tiny roads leading to the turbine location.<link>   

       But now I am thinking of a couple of modifications. One option is to have the outer surface (or just parts of the surface) be soft like a blimp, so when it lands the gas bags will be deflated (into high pressure storage) for the day to reduce windage and area of worksite. The other idea is to have the central storage frame rotating, so if it does go for a wing shape it can rotate to reduce windage. Although, I'm not a fan of the second idea as it would create a danger area on the ground where the entire thing could crash into someone/thing as it rotates. It would be like having a mooring mast all over again.   

       Folding blades would be inefficient since they would only need to fold twice in their life, once on install and once on removal, otherwise it's just another part to break in a storm. The blimp wind turbine is a fine idea in theory, but in practice it fails. You can look up the tethered blimp programs that were used around the world for surveillance, one of the big problems is the tethers breaking and the blimps floating free. And this is on military property where they are inspected on a regular basis. Now if you increase the number of these tethered objects into the thousands, mount them in remote areas with no one around, and spread them across the country, then you are setting yourself up for a serious harm.
unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019

       If a wind turbine were turned "on its back" it could function as a lift rotor.   

       So, just design a fuselage containing a powerplant that can hang below the complete blade assembly and have it fly itself to site.   

       After delivery, unbolt the fuselage from the hub and truck it out, in sections if necessary.
8th of 7, Jul 13 2019

       [ 8th of 7], I had a thought like that as well, but something about trying to get all the helicopter stuff working using (3) 70+ton blades spinning with a massive amount of inertia seemed off somehow. Perhaps it was the idea of those blades being unsupported in the horizontal and the flex might cause them to hit the ground. Especially with the 90+m (with 200m goal) lengths!   

       Of course if someone wanted to go in that direction, then perhaps instead of trying to spin up the massive blades and control them with an engine onboard- it could go passive. So have it setup like a giant gyrocopter. It could get the overhead rotor spinning with a ground based system at the factory runway (supporting the rotors until they stabilize), then use a smaller engine to just push it through the air for thrust.
unhelpful_fool, Jul 13 2019

       In heavy winds, blades that can fold can reduce surface area saving stress on plant and opening up use for flight.   

       Also wouldn't the shape be more of a thin compressiform rather than a mushroom ? A large frontal surface area is going to be a pain .   

       Recapping. Transport wind turbine to site (only blades. nacelle).Use an airship to do it. And use docked airship, at site, to act as construction crane, protection whilst installing. Putting this way it sounds reasonable.
wjt, Jul 14 2019


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