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View Full Version : Planes for the environment



Glom
2004-Oct-09, 04:23 PM
Here's a thought. Given that the growing demand on transportation means that there would need to be a massive build of new roads and railways, what we really need is more investment going in expanding local airports and supporting intercity air travel.

Here's my reasoning. Planes go through the air and so don't require long strips of grass land to be dug up and paved over. Not to mention supporting infrastructure like power lines and lighting.

But what about noise you say? Well road and rail can be noisy when there's a lot of traffic. At least when the planes aren't flying overhead, the country is undisturbed visually. Besides, if you're deaf, then you'll definitely prefer my option. We mustn't forget the deaf people. Of course then there's the blind people who'll probably prefer it the other way round, but oh well, can't please everyone.

But what about global warming you say? Well that's a myth. Besides, global warming is better helped by having good carbon sinks, which would be dug up by road and rail building.

Besides, for longer distance trips, flying can be quicker anyway and time is money (especially in this country).

Yay planes!

Just a thought.

Jpax2003
2004-Oct-09, 06:07 PM
Why not go underneath instead? Deep tunnels would not spoil the landscape and could be high speed transits. Might be more expensive, but could be nuclear-electric powered so there would be no hydrocarbon pollution from it.

But I think rails may be better. The footprint on the environment is less than highways for the same distance. I also think that a rail line has less footprint than an airport. If a large airport takes up one square mile then that equals about 528 miles of rail assuming 10ft width.

tuffel999
2004-Oct-09, 06:51 PM
This couldn't have anything to do with someone wanting to be a pilot?

Glom
2004-Oct-09, 07:20 PM
Are you accusing me of being a shrill for the industry? You want some, punk? 8-[

tuffel999
2004-Oct-09, 09:03 PM
Are you accusing me of being a shrill for the industry? You want some, punk? 8-[

What was that saying............if the glove fits? :wink: Just kidding.

the only counter I have to your arguement is the amount of oil used by air travel, and quite frankly the noise.

Musashi
2004-Oct-09, 09:08 PM
Yeah, I was going to say fuel economy...

tuffel999
2004-Oct-09, 09:11 PM
Yeah, I was going to say fuel economy...

the second is a little more of a day to day concern for me. I live near a small airport and it can be rather loud at times. Rent is cheap though :D

Musashi
2004-Oct-09, 09:13 PM
I'm in the same boat. I am about 0.5 miles from the Fulelrton Municipal Airport. I don't mind the noise too much (it is a small airport, no jets, just smallish prop planes). In fact, a week or two ago we had a crash.

tuffel999
2004-Oct-09, 09:20 PM
I'm in the same boat. I am about 0.5 miles from the Fulelrton Municipal Airport. I don't mind the noise too much (it is a small airport, no jets, just smallish prop planes). In fact, a week or two ago we had a crash.

Oh well we have jets up to the largest private jets. There are a couple of Gulf Streams I see regularly going in and out....along with a few vintage WWII planes.

Musashi
2004-Oct-09, 09:22 PM
Ah, so, you are in a bigger boat than me. :) The loudest thing we get over here are the helicopters and the Ford Tri-Power.

tuffel999
2004-Oct-09, 09:31 PM
Ah, so, you are in a bigger boat than me. :) The loudest thing we get over here are the helicopters and the Ford Tri-Power.

Ohhh......the tripower is a really neat plane. I would love to get inside one. There is a P-51 in and out of here every now and then. it is stationed accross town at the Dixie Air Force.

Kesh
2004-Oct-09, 09:38 PM
1) Planes eat fuel. Lots of fuel. I'm not sure this would be feasable in a world where fuel prices are climbing rapidly and most of the supply is concentrated in a few nations.

2) You will reduce the number of roads, but you won't really reduce the infrastructure much. Planes need runways, taxiways, embarkation/debarkation points, the airport itself to handle the flow of passengers from one flight to another... and then you have issues of folks getting to the airports themselves. Which means roads.

3) Getting people to the airports can be alleviated by building more mass-transit, such as light rails... but that almost defeats the point you were making. You could just move the airport closer to town, but then you run into problems of noise pollution, air pollution, limited space (on the ground and in the air, due to skyscrapers) and safety considerations.

4) People love cars. They love being in control of their own transportation. You'd have to wean folks off that desire before air travel would be more common for short trips, which is a social change rather than economic one.

That said, I love the idea. Planes rock. :D I just don't see it as currently feasable.

Andrew
2004-Oct-09, 10:28 PM
Speaking of which, what alternative fuels are there for aviation applications?

What are they going to do 'when the oil runs out'?

We here a lot in the press about hydrogen fuel cells for automotive applications, but what about aviation?

Glom
2004-Oct-09, 10:36 PM
I'm thinking that the idea is that less roads are needed across open country between major cities because air travel takes on some of the burden of intercity travel. The idea is that while lots of infrastructure is needed near the cities (which doesn't really make that much of a difference given how much they already have) but there is less paving of the open country.

I was rather counting on either the abiotic theory of oil production or development of synthetic petrochemicals.

As you can tell, this isn't exactly a scientifically rigorous proposal, although I will say that a mix of a variety of transportation methods is always smart.

Candy
2004-Oct-10, 10:00 AM
1) Planes eat fuel. Lots of fuel. I'm not sure this would be feasable in a world where fuel prices are climbing rapidly and most of the supply is concentrated in a few nations. That's why my company chose this man...
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 2, 2002 -- ChevronTexaco (NYSE: CVX) today expressed its appreciation to Vice Chairman of the Board Glenn F. Tilton, who is leaving the company to become Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines.... to help understand the oil business and airplanes. 8)

I wish I could remember a quote Mr. Tilton said about the shock he experienced with first learning then understanding how his predecessors ran the now bankrupt company (when it came to oil prices and the waste of oil in respect to airport operations). It was funny.

Jpax2003
2004-Oct-11, 04:27 AM
Like everything else, I suspect air will become nuclear powered and and use non-petrochemicals. I suspect that large intercontinental flights may be able to use various rocket fuels when oil is scarce. I suppose you could put a small nuclear reactor on a large plane, but I was thinking about microwave beaming of energy to aircraft. The microwaves could be emitted from land or space stations. But I agree that synthetic hydrocarbons will be a big player as well.

enginelessjohn
2004-Oct-11, 08:40 AM
Just a few problems with the fundamental idea....

In the UK the majority of car journeys are under 10 miles. There is no way that an aeroplane will be able to fly economically that distance.

In terms of time, in the UK flying take pretty much the same amount of time as the train, when you include going from one town centre to another.

The another is that the emissions from aeroplanes high in the atmosphere do appear to affect climate. And to describe global warming as a myth, is just, well.. over-optimisitic? I think awaiting more data, is probably a better way to put things.

http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/science/08/07/contrails.climate/

And at a purely personal level covering the country in class D airspace is a bad thing from a glider pilots point of view.....

Flying only really makes sense over long distances, anything less than 400 miles has no real benefit.

Rather than building more roads, people in the UK need to be encoraged to use something other than their cars. This means useful subsidised public transport now (the carrot) rather than making it stupidly expensive to drive (the stick), however I suspect that this may be becoming a touch political, so I'll stop now.......

Cheers
John

Glom
2004-Oct-11, 11:28 AM
I was specifically think of cross country journeys, not trips to the local shopping centre. The target is to reduce the need for road and rail to cut up open, unurbanised countryside. I thought about it in light of the new UK road building plans.

The effect of contrails is actually to cause global cooling, more than global warming. Besides, I was specifically referring to the myth of carbon dioxide. It's not too much to call it a myth since there is no actual evidence that directly says anthropogenic carbon dioxide is leading to a major climate catastrophe.

And I'm not the one advocating phasing out class G airspace. I want my class G airspace. We just need some airways for the big routes, like London to Edinburgh.

sarongsong
2004-Nov-17, 08:39 AM
...4) People love cars. They love being in control of their own transportation. You'd have to wean folks off that desire before air travel would be more common for short trips...That said, I love the idea. Planes rock. :D I just don't see it as currently feasable.
Jesse James (http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/monstergarage/monstergarage.html) announced on Jay Leno tonight his goal by the end of this year is to build a flying car...says he's half-convinced he can pull it off..."nothing major, you know, like the Wright Brothers distance-wise...".

Nicolas
2004-Nov-17, 01:43 PM
Planes do use a lot of fuel, and there are lots of studies with different outcomes on this, but fuel per man per kilometer isn't that different from cars due to the fact that lots of people travel in their cars alone.

About other plane fuels, anything that keeps an engine running, so any good heat source would be OK. Now the search is for really good heat sources (plane engines are demanding). It doesn't necessarily have to be very exotic with energy beams and the like.

astrosapien
2004-Nov-17, 02:01 PM
What about magnetic levitation trains? The test track of the Transrapid (http://www.transrapid.de/en/index.html) runs almost throught the backyard of a friend's house. The thing is very fast - I think it could be as fast as 600km/h -, it is very silent as there is nothing more than friction through air. Okay, you would need to build the tracks. It is a very safe way of transportatin, it can't really derail. And I think it looks cool.
However, it cruises the test track for years, the only commercial operation is in Shanghai (short distance, which doesn't really make sense).

Krevel
2004-Nov-17, 08:56 PM
Another problem: weather. There's just no way that an aircraft can safely operate in all of the various weather conditions that people will blissfully drive around in. A good example: I was supposed to take a commuter flight from western Virginia into Washington D.C.. The airport was fogged in, and all flights were cancelled. A bunch of us rented a car and drove there without a problem. Fog is just one of the many weather conditions which will keep planes on the ground.

Makgraf
2004-Nov-17, 11:37 PM
What about airships? They don't require oil (aside from the oil that would be needed to contruct them), they can carry large amounts of people and the Strategic Helium Reserve can finally be put to good use! Plus you wouldn't need to build runways for them, you could just anchor them on top of bulidings, right?

Nicolas
2004-Nov-18, 11:03 AM
Airships are engine powered. They do need lots less power however. So there can be some alternative energy source used for these engines, maybe just high-efficiency solar panels on the huge balloon.

Fram
2004-Nov-18, 01:56 PM
I don't have the link now, but I seem to recall that the record speed for an airship is only 135 km/h. This makes long distance travel perhaps a bit too slow for most people.

Nicolas
2004-Nov-18, 02:26 PM
Speed indeed is an issue. For long distance travel, they only would be usable as some kind of cruise ship. BTW did you know the original H2 filled zeppelins actually had a smoking room?

Candy
2004-Nov-18, 02:30 PM
BTW did you know the original H2 filled zeppelins actually had a smoking room? :o

Nicolas
2004-Nov-18, 03:02 PM
It was overpressurised with an airlock (to prevent H2 gasses from entering the room) and had the only lighter allowed on board, which was built into the room.

Candy
2004-Nov-18, 03:10 PM
It was overpressurised with an airlock (to prevent H2 gasses from entering the room) and had the only lighter allowed on board, which was built into the room.
How about the Hindenburg?

[edit to add a full question]

enginelessjohn
2004-Nov-18, 03:27 PM
Here's a rather interesting article about the Hindenburg....

http://www.esdjournal.com/articles/hindenbrg/hindburg.htm

Where the conclusion is that it was caused by an electrostatic discharge iginiting the envelope. Filling it with helium wouldn't have helped.....

Cheers
John

Candy
2004-Nov-18, 03:36 PM
Here's a rather interesting article about the Hindenburg.... Wow, what a beautiful ship!
[edited to delete and add - "before the tragic fall"]

Nicolas
2004-Nov-18, 04:00 PM
I was talking about the Hindenburg when I issued the smoking room.

It was indeed the envelope which caught fire first (the constitution of the outer clad was a bit like rocket fuel...), it wasn't untill after a while when the H2 bulbs exploded. Helium would have prevented these explosions, but not the huge fire in the first place. New airships use helium anyway, if it only was for the bad name H2 has gotten (not justified to a large extent).

You could only leave the smoking room when all cigarettes had been put out in water and a steward opened the airlock.

Candy
2004-Nov-18, 04:06 PM
I was talking about the Hindenburg when I issued the smoking room. I guess I knew that is a way. I just forget sometimes. :(

pghnative
2004-Nov-18, 04:26 PM
... if it only was for the bad name H2 has gotten (not justified to a large extent).Really?? There are some chemicals which are considered more flammable than hydrogen, but not many. Plus hydrogen is unusual in that it heats up when it's pressure is reduced (such as when leaking from a pressurized container), adding to the risk.

Nicolas
2004-Nov-18, 05:49 PM
Candy, maybe you forget sometimes, but I incorrectly stated "the zeppelins" when I meant "the Hindenburg". Anyway, all cleared up now.

About H2, the Zeppelin Corp means with the bad name of H2 thinks like "Zeppelin Corp.: This new airship is filled with H2" "reporter: Is that the same kind of H2 like the one that blew up in the Hindenburg?" ...

Of course H2 is very inflammable and very explosive when ignited, in Dutch it is also called a "knalgas" meaning "boom gass". Official (though somewhat archaic) term! The point is that with current technology, A H2 airship wouldn't much more dangerous as a helium filled one. A tank filled with pure H2 isn't that easy to inflame. I'm not saying it is the safest gas on earth, but with the right precausions it isn't that dangerous. Something like the Van Allen Belts :)

I'm not an expert in how to make H2 safe, but I remember an experiment in school where we were unable to inflame H2 gas with a lucifer put directly into it! You need to have the right combination of flame, air and H2. During the Hindenburg disaster, the whole ship was already in (huge) flames when the first H2 started to burn/explode. It certainly wasn't on spark one that the whole thing blew up.

Nicolas
2004-Nov-18, 05:50 PM
One more thing. H2 in an airship wouldn't be pressurised, would it? I would think that would only give it less floating capacity (larger density)?

pghnative
2004-Nov-18, 09:35 PM
A tank filled with pure H2 isn't that easy to inflame.But one with a small leak can easily become a blow torch. Can't do that with helium.
During the Hindenburg disaster, the whole ship was already in (huge) flames when the first H2 started to burn/explode. It certainly wasn't on spark one that the whole thing blew up.I'm aware of there being some debate as to what caused the spark (some say lightning), but I think there is general agreement that the H2 was the initial fuel..
One more thing. H2 in an airship wouldn't be pressurised, would it?I'd expect a slight positive pressure to maintain rigidity of the skin.

Nicolas
2004-Nov-18, 10:13 PM
Little overprssure to keep the tanks in form could be possible, unless the tanks were reinforced (safety).

There is NO general agreement that the H2 was the initial fuel. The outer paint/protective layer of the outer balloon was extremely inflammable, and was proved to be able to inflame by a charged atmosphere (like in bad weather), as some designers knew before the accident already. So the H2 wasn't the initial fuel, not even the main fuel. It just gave the finishing explosions to a ship already totally lost in flames. the outer paint layer resembled rocket fuel, baaaaaaad choice.

Small leaks in the tanks are indeed dangerous. However, reinforced tanks (like LPG tanks) can be made very safe. Weight is the tradeoff. One pro of floating gasses is that they can't leak downward. Of course if the flames set the whole craft on fire you're screwed anyway :).