BALLOON ASSISTED TRANSPORTATION
Edward E. Rochon
Edward E. Rochon on Shakespir
Balloon Assisted Transportation
Copyright © 2017 by Edward E. Rochon
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Some Other Works by the Author
[Ban Traffic Lights: An Essay
City of Light: An Essay
Cubics: A Numbers Essay
Global Warming: An Essay
God & Square Roots
Inexpensive Subs: An Essay
Kite Plane: An Essay
Mars Squared Equals Earth: An Essay
Number Bases & Digits: An Essay
Pest Control: An Essay
Plan RD: An Essay
Pollution Solution: An Essay
Pollution Soup Cook: An Essay
SDI: An Essay
The JU Engine
The New Vauban: An Essay
Tolerating High G: An Essay
Waterworks: An Essay]
Table of Contents
The charm of balloons, their grace and simplicity still inspire our esthetic sense and practical turn of mind. Free lift without engine power for the price of light gases, or hot air with engine heat doubly used for propulsion sounds economical. Well, hydrogen is flammable and needs to be manufactured, escapes easily and alters container characteristics. Helium is hard to come by and so expensive. Hot air is cheap except for the heating of it. The heat exchange and economy of design are problems. Airships require bulk and are not swift. They do not require runways but are quite large and awkward for heavy loads. They tend to be fragile as all aircraft tend to be, and their bulk highly susceptible to storm damage. They make great targets when used for military purposes, making for difficult defense and survivability. Yet we still have them in the planning, on design boards of military, civilian designers.
We all but invariably think of balloons for air transport. However, we all use balloon flotation (tires, etc. of same inflatable sort) for water recreation, for survival and even transport. Apart from balloon cars that use balloon exhaust to power toy cars and such, there is not much interest in using balloons to aid ground transport. By aid, I mean lighten loads to reduce powertrain expenditure, get double use of fuel by using exhaust to heat air. Are we missing something here? Are balloon assisted car and water transport reasonable and practical? We are not talking about rafts, or even so much land vehicles lightened by balloons to wade rivers and water bodies, though this is close to the mark, but we have something else in mind as to method. Let us see if a quick synopsis motivates anyone with the means to consider this. Someone with powered model vehicles might do this for fun and research with the idea of getting some patents and making some money on sales at some future point in time.
Chapter 1: Balloon Assisted Cars
There is plenty of overhead room for automobiles on highways. Trucks require a lot of overhead room beneath bridges. We have automobile only routes with low overhead underpasses. Even here there is usually room for some overhead bulk.
We want to lighten the load of the car to make it easier for its engines to push the load forward, while minimizing any drag from the attached balloon overhead. Airships generally max out at about 80 knots (96 MPH or so), and this is well within typical car speeds in most instances. Moreover, cars will have much more aerodynamically designed balloons, because they will only assist forward motion, not lift the weight into the air. They can be designed to more efficiently cut through the air.
The lift needs to be able to lift its own frame and then some of the weight of the car. The balloon could even be longer than the car to aid the lifting power without interfering with vehicle mobility. Most likely, we would have a deflating mechanism required to work quickly. The push forward and back extension of the bladder (balloon) could be aided by the force of air pressure. A telescoped frame would snap in or out of place as required.
By this, I mean that when the hot air from engine exhaust, or compressed light air from some storage container inflated the balloon, the forward and backward struts would be pushed forward and then snap in place as these kind of things do with other folding and expandable frames. A release would allow the frame to return upon deflation.
For passenger automobiles, we need a balloon frame that does not interfere with windows. It follows the frame of the car between the windows. The rest of the frame is overhead and as low as possible to the roof to keep overhead height to a minimum. We almost certainly do not want the standard blimp, dirigible shape for the balloon, although CAD/CAM might indicate otherwise. We want a streamlined balloon that lifts from the frame and stretches forward and backwards with hot air or light gas stored on board. We want the ideal crossover point between lift and air drag to aid in moving the car forward at typical car speeds. We must have fuel economy and more weight capacity to make this reasonable. This is another CAD/CAM matter.
We want the balloon to aid the stability of the car on the road, not destabilize it, another CAD/CAM matter. Cars typically slow down on turns (except with maniacs at the wheel), so the drag of the balloon lift should not be a factor, and may aid slowing and turning stability; at least this is my supposition.
We have the problem of hydroplaning in wet weather. Conceivably, the balloon might stabilize the car here, but will certainly make the car lighter and easier to hydroplane. The driver could deflate the balloon under hazardous conditions as a precaution. There may be an emergency deflate system to help get control of the car. The fact is, that any small, light vehicle is going to have more inclination to hydroplane. With more of the weight off of the road, it might be more expedient to use four wheel drive deep groove tires for even lighter four cylinder cars, the lift compensating for the heavier and less fuel efficient traction of such tires for economy, family cars.
We would try to get the balloon under 8 feet, 7 feet ideally. (If more room is required, the balloon could still deflate for low underpasses. A nuisance but doable. 7 and 8 foot underpasses are uncommon.) We are talking about a flattened balloon covering the width of the vehicle and perhaps a bit more. The extension of the balloon would certainly be above the height of most hoods and many rear ends of standard cars with trunks. You would also have the option of deflation with parking to go back to standard length.
Placing impediments and back pressure on exhaust decreases fuel efficiency. With the balloon as a muffling factor, smaller mufflers could be an option. The great empty space of the balloon would facilitate decreasing back pressure. At full expansion, a heat diverter would vent pressure directly to the atmosphere to increase fuel efficiency. Some venting would be continuous into the balloon, as we are not talking about super insulation efficiency in the balloon. With helium or hydrogen, the heat would not be a problem, but we would not get double use of engine heat to carry loads, and these light gases are trouble.
While keeping the inflated foil close to the roof to keep overhead down, we would likely have some airfoil lift to add to the lightness of the car when under motion. So we have lighter than air lift from heat or gas, air foil lift, double use of engine heat with hot air. We could also heat light gases to increase lift, though agitated hydrogen would certainly escape at a greater rate, and it is flammable to boot.
I have made no attempt to get statistics to support the thesis, lacking CAD/CAM, expertise and inclination and time. We might suppose alliances between automotive and aerospace industry would be helpful. Given the simple nature of the matter and low speed, automotive and model airplane companies might do as well.
Chapter 2: Balloon Assisted Ships
Using floats to ferry vehicles across water is nothing new. I have suggested using flotation girdles to bring large cargo submarines into port, or even large ships to use standard 35-40 foot draft harbors, to pass through the Suez Canal, etc. These would be girdle flotation. But what about overhead flotation, and when winds were unfavorable to efficient use of airfoils; might the balloons operate as sails that might employ wind to move the craft along? This was the case in the early days of powered craft with traditional sails, sails and engines together. Here we have a three way power enhancement potential: sail, balloon lift assist with heat doubly used and airfoil, and the engine propulsion itself.
Once again, we must place the frame in such as way as to avoid interference with ship function. In the case of cargo ships, the lading winches and so forth must be able to work in port. The air frame must be out of the way by design, or foldable in port to facilitate lading.
Because of the great height of most port bridges, the balloon lift might have more relative height in proportion to the vehicle driven than in the case of cars.
The funnels of the ship could provide the heat for the hot air system. We would also have a venting system to keep back pressure on the engines to a minimum, to regulate venting to the airfoil expansion. The great capacity of the balloons would minimize back pressure during expansion.
Due to the design problem of ships, the airfoils may be able to maneuver even at sea, change tilt, deflate somewhat to be used as sturdy sails when strong winds and seas would make fully inflated balloon foils problematic as to integrity, and much inhibited by too much air drag when sailing into the wind. Sails are problematic in high winds as well. The heavy floppy nature of partially deflated balloons may work better here, or not. We certainly would not expect these deflated surfaces to have the efficiency of real sails. And the efficiency of real sails in catching the wind, good most of the time, makes it more likely they will be torn off in stormy weather. They are more maneuverable to aid the crew, and so must be lighter though still rugged.
Chapter 3: Other Matters
The foils may shield vehicles from excessive heat in hot climates, and work more efficiently due to heat from the sun, allowing the engine to stay cool by shielding it from sunshine, and by less power requirements.
For military usage, the susceptible nature of balloons to gunfire would be a drawback. However, these balloons when properly camouflaged might actually be harder to find against vehicle outline signature and infrared signature. The foil would shield in both cases. There is much advantage in extending fuel efficiency in hot and dry climates. There is much value in keeping both the crew and vehicle cool. There may be value in keeping the logistics cargo cool. Hot air and helium will not be flammable. Such devices when merely strafed without incineration or high explosion may be fairly easy to patch up by well trained crews.
It is very unlikely that garages, military depots, shipyards will have much trouble dealing with this type of additional equipment to repair. While design would certainly be a problem in getting the best design and reliability taken together, as the technology is largely new for cars and ships.
The ability of large ships to lift up sufficiently to clear depths of canals with wide cross sections such as the Suez Canal would save money. Ships are quite large with moorings to allow many heavy cables to support the weight of the lift. The large area of the balloons allows spreading weight distribution over the balloon surface, taking great stress off otherwise relatively fragile material. Snapping cables would definitely be a potential danger, but a collapse would hardly be catastrophic as the ship is buoyant in water. At worst, it might require lightening ballast, and it is all but impossible that a cable failure in one place would lead to multiple failures. The captain could lessen lift in balloons fairly quickly to compensate for list and reduced load lift from broken cables. The whole balloon severing might sink a ship with very heavy excess capacity.
Using cables would probably be a good idea for very large ships, while not absolutely necessary for cars and smaller loads. Trains might use them. They help spread weight and take pressure off the solid framework.
We know that trimming land and sea vehicles is inherently easier than trimming airborne craft moving at higher speeds. The difficulty of hybrid design is lessened for assisted vehicles for this reason. Airborne craft must be fragile by necessity of design to lift efficiently. Land and sea craft invariably carry much heavier loads in proportion to size, are always designed more ruggedly. Only the balloons attached are relatively fragile, and a catastrophic failure does not result in a precipitous descent. Have we been looking at balloons from the wrong perspective for centuries, fascinated as we are by flights of angels, we land based animals that only swim a little with our frail bodies?
Semi-trailers put a lot of stress on our highways. Lightening the load of these trucks upon the tarmac would save money in road repair. Should we also consider lightening railroad cars to ease stress on old tracks, increase engine efficiency?
Barges on riverways could get further upstream by lessening draft. River traffic is certainly another option, and repairing the balloon and observing them so much simpler than with ships at sea.
Double use of energy to move loads, lighter than air and airfoil lift acting together at the same time, coupled with the ease of maintenance of balloons that do not leave the earth, all seems like a potential profitable technology. And it ain’t rocket science though can be subtle for efficiency and reliability. And we cannot be talking about a lot of trouble with altering assembly lines, I would think. The final asset could be assembled at another site as well. So I have summarized my preface and hope something of use and some originality was written down here.
Other Works by the Author
Collected Poems I
Collected Poems II
Elements of Physics: Matter
Elements of Physics: Space
Elements of Physics: Time
Unified Field Theory: An Essay
Space as Infinity II
Golden Age Essays
Golden Age Essays II
Golden Age Essays III
Golden Age Essays IV
Golden Age Essays V
My current biography and contact links are posted at . My writings include essays, poetry and dramatic work. Though I write poetry, my main interest is essays about the panoply of human experience and knowledge. This includes philosophy, science and the liberal arts. Comments, reviews and critiques of my work are welcome. Thank you for reading my book.
A brief preface wonders if we are too fixated on flight with lighter than air lift. Might assisting cars and ships by lightening reduce energy expenditure to transport things? Chapter 1 discusses cars and land vehicles. We discuss the frame, nature of balloons, offering light gases or heated gases as options as well as heated light gases. We mention difficulties. We note the blimp type balloons or traditional balloons are not expedient here. We use balloons that have airfoil lift when the car is in motion. We can expand or collapse the balloons as required to allow for parking. We can deflate them to decrease hydroplaning when needed. Chapter 2 discusses ships. Here, we both lift the ship out of the water and ease forward motion. We may alter the inflated airfoils to act as sails when conditions merit this. We discuss safety and the use of cables to distribute the weight of the ship across the balloon surfaces. The ship funnels supply the heat for hot air. In Chapter 3 we note some drawbacks and benefits for using this method in military vehicles. We discuss safety matters again and repeat the summary of reason why this might be a good idea to improve fuel efficiency, weight capacity for land and sea vehicles.