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Truly Sustainable Transportation

Transportation powered entirely by renewable energy that does not nessecitate a huge amount of infastructure.
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Truly sustainable transportation is possible, but I have no idea how feasible it is. I believe the best way is through air travel. Air travel, though it requires a relatively small strip of pavement to land on and air traffic control, is otherwise free from external infastructure - much unlike the road and rail construction and maintanance of auto and train systems. Airplanes, helecopters, hovercraft and zeppelins, blimps or whatever people call them nowadays can now able be powered by renewable energy - either by powering electric motors from solar panels imbedded into the surface of the craft, extracting powering elements directly from the air while traveling, or through (renewable) fuel cells onboard. I think zeppelins seem to be the most promising. It's huge surface area would be ideal for mounting solar arrays. Theoretically the boyancy of it's helium neccesitates less need for power (however, what kind of effect helium extraction and refining have on the environment?). Though they may not fly as fast as some planes, zeppelins still travel much faster than road speed limits and slow railways. Unlike most planes, zeppelins don't require airstrips.

I think the biggest hurtle with any new system would be making it cost effective. To date renewable energy and flight have been a luxury of the wealthy. If manufactorers were able to make renewable airtravel available to the masses at a reasonable price, and the space for aircraft landings made smaller, then people would really take notice. Another cost inhibition is the fact the pilot licensing is very expensive.

Anyway, this is just an idea I've had brewing for a while now. Any thoughts?

Jilard, Jul 02 2002

Catapult to woik http://www.halfbake...atapult_20to_20Work
and everyplace else [thumbwax, Jul 02 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Iceland moves to hydrogen economy http://news.bbc.co....1727000/1727312.stm
A rather better idea for sustainable and clean transportation (though not as good as Catapult to Work, of course). [DrBob, Jul 02 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Hullaballoon http://www.halfbake...m/idea/Hullaballoon
[calum, Jul 02 2002]

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       Zeppelin require huge hanger to house them and fill them with helium. Many times larger than an airplane with the same lifting power. And the hanger costs far more than air strip.   

       Moving air waste a lot of energy to move thing forward. If you think SUV are bad, the most effecient aircraft engine have even lower mileage per gallon of fuel. That is price you pay for speed.   

       Yes, I know the Solar powered Pathfinder plane, that seems like the direction you want to go. But even with lightest and strongest material you can find, it will take a lot more innovation in air-vehicle design to carry a human around using only renewable energy.
bing, Jul 02 2002

       Get a horse.   

       (The NY Times recently ran an excellent article explaining in detail why zepellins never realized their promise of safe, low cost transportation - no one has ever figured out an effective way to keep them from bobbing up when they eventually release their cargo.)
DrCurry, Jul 02 2002

       Did you calculate the amount of horseshit generated by people banging on about sustainable transportation?
angel, Jul 02 2002

       The best prospect for sustainable transportation has to be electric vehicles powered by electricity generated by wind power, solar power, tidal power, hydro power, etc. Either that, or walking.
pottedstu, Jul 02 2002

       Bing, comparing a jet engine to an SUV in terms of miles per gallon isn't a very good analogy - you need to think of it in terms of gallons used per passenger mile (how much gas does it take, on a per-passenger basis, to move one mile). In those terms, a Boeing 747 (currently the largest passenger jet) is much more efficient than most vehicles on the road today. The numbers below assume just a driver, since that is most common. You'll see that the 747 wins by a large margin over the SUV and even beats out the Honda Insight. Start carpooling and the insight wins out, but who wants to make a coast-to-coast run at 60 mph in a cramped little gas-electric hybrid when the jet will get you there so much faster?   


       Range: 7260 miles Gallons used: 57,285 Passengers: approx. 500 500 x 7260 = 3,630,000 passenger miles 57,285 G / 3,630,000 P.M. = 0.0158 G/P.M.   

       SUV: (Honda Pilot)   

       Range: 22 miles   

       Gallons used: 1   

       Passengers: driver only   

       22 x 1 = 22 P.M.   

       1 G / 22 P.M. = .045 G/P.M.   

       Efficient car: (Honda Insight)   

       Range: 68 miles   

       Gallons used: 1   

       Passengers: driver only (will hold 4, but not comfortably)   

       60 x 1 = 60 P.M.   

       1 G / 60 P.M. = .016 G/P.M.
Freefall, Jul 02 2002

       air-traffic-control? we have a problem with it in UK already, imagine if _everyone_ had a plane/blimp etc
chud, Jul 03 2002

       Honda Sucks.... Thank You!
wicker2, Feb 12 2003


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