h a l f b a k e r y
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-natural gas is becoming costly
-there are many pockets of 'stranded gas' that are not used because they are inaccessible
-many ideas have circulated on ways to get to that gas and somehow get it out of its location and to a pipeline; these include: filling balloons that float in the high atmosphere
across the globe and that are picked up by any customer who is willing to pay (Soviet idea); the most obvious is using airships; the Graf Zeppelin, the world's most successful airship, carried Blaugas as its fuel; contemporary researchers are looking back into this concept for stranded gas.
-my idea is a combination of these existing ideas:
1. a big cigar-shaped bag is filled with methane (which is lighter than air), put under pressure so that the bag gets a bit of a rigid shape
2. this is a bag reinforced with lightweight synthetic cables
3. the bag has simple, lightweight wheels (for take-off and landing); since methane is lighter than air, we can more or less create a neutral buyoancy cigar
4. a small aircraft simply tows the bag and flies it, at relatively low speeds to a pipeline
5. small airstrips can be built easily, even in rugged terrain, no need for complex infrastructures
6. the bag is foldable, so when a full gas bag has been delivered, the airplane can transport the bag in its cargo-section to the same or any other 'stranded gas' site
7. say the aircraft tows a 10,000m³ bag with gas worth US$3000 for 400km @ 100 km/h and flies back to another gas site 400km away, at 200 km/ha; this would take 6 hours; so let's say you can make 3 shifts per day per aircraft/bag, and transport US$9000 worth of gas per day. The bag would cost about US$ 200,000 to make. Maybe it's economic! We use a fuel efficient natural gas powered aircraft, of course.
8. please see the picture I made of this simple idea
This concept avoids the operational drawbacks of a traditional airship/gas airship associated with takeoff, landing, and ground operations. Conventional airships are difficult to handle on the ground and require a large number of people to grab lines during landing, or it must use equipment of some sort to "catch" the airship and attach it to a mooring mast. Our big bag has none of these problems.
I have to be honest, I'm not very good at aircraft and aerodynamic related stuff, even though I designed the hippest airship ever (see link). Also, I have seen an aircraft with a strange form, a big bag on top of its fuselage (link).
Inspiration comes from the nice picture of a Chinese boy who steals natural gas in a bag.
GasCraft big bag
The boy thinks it might work! [django, May 08 2007]
Voted the sexiest airship ever
See "Bizarre blimp drawing" [django, May 08 2007]
Aircraft with a huge bag on top of it
It's called Beluga, because it resembles the beluga whale!! [django, May 08 2007]
Huge I tells you! [bungston, May 09 2007]
Even huger bags!!
Bungston, I warn you, these are the hugest! [django, May 09 2007]
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||Methane is about five times as heavy as helium, but still lighter than air, not by much. Your bag is going to have to be pretty light. The aircraft you are using to tow, is it heavier than air? Or another blimp? Blimp speed tends to top out around fifty miles per hour, but most heavier than air craft have stall speeds higher than that.
||Basically you want to fly around in a plane just barely fast enough to stay in the air, towing a gigantic bag of flammable gas that is just barely buoyant enough to stay in the air, and fly into populated areas? That is just insane enough for a bun.
||Mmm, Galbinus: 1. this is not really a blimp, the speed of which is limited because of its rather unaerodynamic shape and because it is pushed through the air; the bag on the contrary is pulled which is a major difference, allowing for much higher speeds and much more aerodynamical shapes; for a blimp to work, its engines and vanes need to steer an entire structure, which limits the design options; not so with the bag; 2. the bag is lightweight, there are quite a few ultralightweight materials that are very strong. 3. obviously stranded gas has nothing to do with populated areas, it has everything to do with uninhabited polar regions, with Siberia, with jungles, etc... that's precisely why it's called stranded gas. You fly to sections of pipelines in regions that are uninhabited as well.
So that's really not a problem, I think.
The main question, I think, is: will it fly?
||I'd say that boy is "selling", not "stealing", although he may have stolen it in the first place.
||As for the design, I quibble that the airflow from the aircraft engines is going to hit the bag and create even more drag. (It's odd how often folks don't see that.) A long enough rope and some altitude difference will take care of the problem, as may have been assumed but left out for artistic reasons. Otherwise, [+].
||How do the economics of this (given the
huge drag and necessarily low speed)
compare to the economics of liquifying the
gas and transporting a much much smaller
volume of much denser liquid?
||I knew this was going to be a [django]. The large plastic film container. The Huge Bags!
||Re LNG - I like this idea as sort of a steampunk precryogenic retro idea. I can imagine this as a WWI type of scheme. Assuming dirigible-like structural materials, how large would a methane blimp have to be to be buoyant?
||That chinese kid with the bag of gas is great. That bag does not look super buoyant, though. I wonder what he will do with the gas. Power a stove?
||[MaxwellBuchanan] stranded gas fields are often relatively small pockets; building a liquefaction plant there, in places where there are no roads, and then transporting LNG/Synthetic Fuels in specially adapted military tanks or cross-country jeeps seems highly expensive! I'm very much sure that the air-transport option is much cheaper; either by airship or by Django-bag.
||[Bungston] yes! I have something with huge plastic bags. As a small child I once visited a building wrapped by Christo. Since then, I have a clear trauma/psychological problem. :-)
Maybe I should sue Christo.
||//I'm very much sure// People are often
sure of things for the silliest of reasons.
||What are the numbers? Given that a
liquefier is, in essence, a compressor and a
heat-dissipator, what does it actually cost?
You may well be right, in which case it
would behove you to do the sums and
||Nice idea! Maybe you could string several bags together behind the plane? I like imagining shoals of these aircraft flying in the setting sun, as if towing big plastic clouds. I like [bungston]'s steampunks airship idea most of all.
||hmm...although surely you'd have to bring in heavy machinery to build the airstrip and drill the borehole?