The hybrid hot hydrogen balloon combines two
lighter than air technologies: a hot air balloon and a
hydrogen balloon. A hot air balloon works by heating the
air within the balloon. The air expands which causes the
mass of air contained within the balloon to be less than the
surrounding air. The result is that the hot air balloon will
rise. A hydrogen balloon will rise without adding heat
because hydrogen is lighter than air. Now suppose the
hydrogen is heated the way a hot air balloon is heated? The
efficiency of the hydrogen will increase.
A hot air balloon burns a mixture of propane
and air. The idea behind the hybrid hot hydrogen balloon is
that the balloon or envelope would contain hydrogen that was
on fire; a very controlled fire.
Many people think of hydrogen and the
Hindenburg zeppelin that exploded in New Jersey in 1937.
Unfortunately, that terrible incident killed of the airship
industry. And, recent research has demonstrated that the
silver coating (dope) on the skin of the aircraft was the
primary fuel that caused the explosive fire that destroyed
the Hindenburg. The point being that hydrogen, while
dangerous, is manageable when properly controlled.
The hybrid hot hydrogen balloon, at first
appearance, looks like a rather standard helium balloon.
Upon closer inspection, however, one will observe several
hot hydrogen balloon has a lightweight high temperature has
a standard envelope. (E)
hot hydrogen balloon has a lightweight high temperature
capable wire that is suspended from the top of the balloon
to the base. This wire acts as a harness from which several
devices are attached. Attached to the wire at the bottom of
the balloon, outside of the gas envelope, is a (F)
microcontroller that manages all control functions for the
system. Also outside the balloon and attached to the
harness wire is a (G) battery (or solar collector) to power
the system. A (F) small compressor is present to take
outside air and feed it into the balloon through a (D) small
tube. The small tube enters the balloon and follows the
harness wire to the center of the balloon where it attaches
to an (C) igniter and (B) burner element.
Once at altitude the controller turns on the
compressor which feeds a stream of air into the center of
the balloon. An igniter causes the mixture of air and
hydrogen to burn. The controller regulates the flow of air
and to keep the flame under control.
The flame will heat the remaining hydrogen
gas and cause it to expand. As it expands the balloon will
increase it lift capabilities.
Some challenges come to mind such as (1) what
would the net lift gain be from heating up the hydrogen?
(2) How much would the system weigh? (3) How much hydrogen
would have to be burned in order to provide a benefit and
would that benefit be lost by decreasing the volume of the