March 1, 2014

Something of worth from the DAWG Crusade?

HAV-304_2837234b.jpg

A hybrid aircraft, this goofy looking vehicle is capable of heavy lifting and long flight times thanks to the buoyancy of helium gas. The UK Telegraph article that describes it touts its "low carbon" and "green" attributes. I call it a possibly cost-effective vehicle for heavy transport and other specialized uses - provided it is economical in its use of the non-renewable commodity, helium gas.

Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe Oil and Energy Technology Posted by JohnGalt at March 1, 2014 3:18 PM

Mmmmmkay, but am I alone in thinking all the "Green" accomplishments always harken back to centuries-old technology repurposed?

All the things we gave up are suddenly brand new. My buddy, JC, gets angry every time I bring up Karl Poppers "back to the caves," but green tech always seems more "Downton Abbey" than Star Trek TNG.

Posted by: jk at March 2, 2014 1:56 PM

If the whole heavy-haul thing doesn't pan out, they can always use it to drop promo coupons over arenas.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 3, 2014 10:22 AM

You have a point, JK, but it's also true that there are perfectly good uses for old technology that were set aside in favor of something more flashy but no more effective.

When I saw someone trying to push renewed use of lighter than air craft it reminded me that at least as recently as the mid-80s the British Army was teaching young paratroopers to fall out of the sky by putting them in a balloon tethered to a winch, unwinding a few hundred feet of cable, and ushering them out the door. At the same point in the training cycle, the US Army was fueling up a C-130 and flying new paratroopers from Georgia to Alabama, then loading them in deuce and a halfs and driving them back.

I don't think markets necessarily have the patience to wait for that new hybrid aircraft to make deliveries, but I'd be surprised if there weren't commercial uses for something that just needs to go more-or-less straight up and come straight back down. Does a local traffic reporter really need to burn helicopter fuel, or would sitting in a balloon with a big lens work? How close together would the border patrol have to put balloons to monitor the entire US/Mexico border (assuming an alternate universe where the US border patrol actually wanted to monitor the border)?

And of course, let's not forget that while they're pushing all sorts of centuries-old technology that doesn't really work all that well, but from which political contributions can be wrung, they're banning the centuries-old use of wood, coal and tungsten to effectively create heat, electricity and light.

Posted by: AndyN at March 3, 2014 11:03 AM

Good commentary all around. I liked it mostly as an engineering achievement. The application of hauling goods into Canada's Northern Territories and taking away some Ice Road Trucker business, I thought was a good one.

As long as its development is privately funded it is likely to meet market needs. To the extent it is government funded, it is doomed to be an expensive failure.

Posted by: johngalt at March 3, 2014 2:56 PM | What do you think? [4]