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Kevin Jepson
Member
Posts: 48
Greetings fellow Steampunks. I've been writing a series of blog posts about the design of a Steampunk Airship for a small Steampunk group I belong to. We are an airship crew so I figure we should have some idea of what we are actually flying on :-) The first article in the series is here: http://gearsgogglesnsteam.blogspot.ca/2012/11/practical-airship-design-part-1.html The airship is powered by an amazingly powerful (nuclear?) energy source and uses steam as the lifting gas! Comments, critiques and ideas are welcome. I try to have lots of interesting historical and steampunk info at my blog at: http://gearsgogglesnsteam.blogspot.ca/ I also have a companion Pinterest board at: http://pinterest.com/kevinmax/gears-goggles-and-steam-oh-my/
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Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.
Kevin

November 18, 2012 at 7:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

FriendofYox
Member
Posts: 11

Fanciful. Have fun   :)

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November 21, 2012 at 8:25 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Letemdangle
Member
Posts: 4

To make steam you need water. Water is heavy and could cause some control problems as it sloshes around. You'd already need a lot of water around your nuclear engine to keep it from over heating. Then of course you need potable water. That's a lot of weight sloshing around putting extreme forces on your structure. You might want to consider light weight aluminum condensing rods and an  air vortex dynamo to provide water from the surrounding air where it is a more stable material. 

November 25, 2012 at 12:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kevin Jepson
Member
Posts: 48
True enough, the largest amount of water is that needed for the shielding, once the envelope is filled initially we only need to generate steam enough to account for condensation and leakage. I figure since a ship like the Hindenburg carried almost 15 tons of water for ballast there shouldn't be too much trouble carrying what we need. Also we don't need to carry the 55 tons of fuel oil either. I do like the idea of getting water from the air though.
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Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.
Kevin

November 25, 2012 at 8:47 PM Flag Quote & Reply

The-Engineer
Member
Posts: 3
Hey Kevin, It's good to see that you are taking the time to really think out your airship design. However, using steam as a lifting gas is extremely difficult (if not impractical). The densities listed in your reference chart is for saturated steam at atmospheric pressure with an enthalpy of at least 2675 kJ per Kg of steam. That heat content will disipate rapidly to the surrounding atmosphere through convection (almost as quickly as the steam is produced). Once the steam starts losing latent heat, it will become wetter and wetter and you will lose your lift. It may be easier to use steam heat in conjunction with a lifting gas. The idea of a nuclear-like energy source is pretty cool. Some good reference for reactor design and ideas is Babcock and Wilcox's "Steam: It's Generation and Use". As for water sloshing around, that's easily solved with installing baffles in the storage tanks. It's the same construction used for tanker trailers. The primary concern would be boiler water treatment. If the majority of your condensate returns to the steam generator feedwater tank, makeup water requirements would be minimal. How much will your ship weigh? Anyway good luck with your airship development and design.
November 27, 2012 at 2:21 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Kevin Jepson
Member
Posts: 48
Thanks Back-Pressure There would be a constant condensation of the steam against the inside of the lift gas bags. This would tend to put some heat back into the total volume. Also the generator is constantly adding steam to the volume and therefore a heat flow as well. The experiments the group in England have done show that large volumes of atmospheric pressure steam can be kept stable. See http://www.flyingkettle.com/ for their results. The rate of condensation was pretty high for an uninsulated envelope it was over a kg/sq m/hour. they got it down to 300 g/sq m/hour which is still high. Using a nuke for heat helps a lot though :-) As far as weight goes, my rough calcs indicate that a ship as big or bigger than the Hindenburg would work so a dead weight of 145 T or so. Weight doesn't go up as fast as volume does so the bigger the better. Thanks for the tip on Babcock and Wilcox, have to add it to my library.
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Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.
Kevin

December 5, 2012 at 9:07 AM Flag Quote & Reply

DVSDuncan
Member
Posts: 37

It would seem that the problem of heat loss from the lifting gas could be reduced by the use of multiple layers of air space between the gas bags and the hull. Filling these spaces with argon gas would further reduce loss.

For a lifting gas, why not use dry air or heated helium? Both have well established properties and could be warmed by a nuclear reaction..

As far as the nuclear options goes, you do not need an active reactor. Exchange your steam engines for Sterling engines. Bath one piston of the engine in liquid helium and warm the oher with decaying nuclear fuel rods. The result is a greatly reduced need for water and reduced radiation ourput.

December 10, 2012 at 1:57 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Shepp
Member
Posts: 29

Well, if you have a nuclear reactor aboard to begin with, how much effort and technological monkeying would it take to use all that power to split water into Oxygen and Hydrogen. Then somehow convert the hydrogen into much safer helium.


The mass involved to do that would probably not make it worth the effort though. Still, the ability to extract hydrogen from water might aid in lifting. Perhaps an emergency system in the event that the nuclear reactor must be ejected.

Or possibly a means of quickly filling a gas bag on a longboat  for excursions without lowering the main airship.

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Note: Looking to buy Headrobots Snake (Cobra Commander) and other things. Check out my thread. Shepp's Buy/Sell/Trade thread 

December 11, 2012 at 3:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

DVSDuncan
Member
Posts: 37

Unfortunately, hydrogen and helium are both elements and it is not possible to convert one to the other. Having said that, spitting water would provide both a fuel that could be burned for various purposed and a supply of oxygen that might be useful at higher elevations.

December 12, 2012 at 3:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

DVSDuncan
Member
Posts: 37

Well... here is one way to make helium from hydrogen...but a fusion reaction aboard an airship strikes me as a very bad idea....

December 12, 2012 at 3:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kevin Jepson
Member
Posts: 48
DVSDuncan Hot air doesn't have enough lift to be useful at large scales, even with a nuke on board. Water is a pretty good lift gas and essentially free to produce as long as you have lots of free heat to reboil the condensation. I like the idea of splitting the water for oxygen and hydrogen. The design I'm playing with is going to use electric propulsion, the power generated using a steam turbine and Tesla's AC induction motors.
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Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.
Kevin

December 15, 2012 at 12:04 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Kevin Jepson
Member
Posts: 48
In case you haven't seen it, part 5 of my design series is up at my blog here: http://gearsgogglesnsteam.blogspot.ca/2012/12/practical-airship-design-part-5.html The whole series is available by clicking the tag 'Flight Engineer'.
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Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.
Kevin

December 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kevin Jepson
Member
Posts: 48
The latest addition to my library is "Airship Design" by Charles P. Burgess. Written in 1927 this 300 page book is a fantastic collection of engineering information, formulae, calculations, diagrams, and specifications for designing rigid airships. I'm really looking forward to applying some of this info to my design. More info here: http://gearsgogglesnsteam.blogspot.ca/2013/01/airship-design-1927.html
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Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.
Kevin

January 27, 2013 at 2:34 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Antiquarius
Member
Posts: 17

Something to fuel the imagination..I was just reading an article about the splitting of water to extract the hydrogen using nano technology. The process uses silicon reduced to a powder where each grain is no bigger than 10nm. It reacts with water and produces hydrogen What you have is essentially, a hydrogen fuel cell. Cutting edge, yes but when one considers that silicon was first isolated in1825.....well, there is room for thought here. Considering many interesting alternatives,hydrogen would seem to remain the premiere lifting gas. The technologies would have to develop to improve its containment and safety. Food for thought Gentleman, and ladies of course...

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Clock maker and owner of, Antiquarius Antiques & Curiosities.



February 8, 2013 at 7:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Antiquarius
Member
Posts: 17

An afterthought, but a big one; keeping lift and propulsion separate/ independent. In the event of a system failure you can't always pick where you have to set down!

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Clock maker and owner of, Antiquarius Antiques & Curiosities.



February 10, 2013 at 1:21 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Vernon
Member
Posts: 2

I realize I am late to the conversation, however simple question. If one can make Hydrogen and Oxygen by splitting water with electricity  and your going to have a lot of electricity. Thanks to the mad man engines, why not use hydrogen rather then steam?


April 7, 2013 at 2:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kevin Jepson
Member
Posts: 48
Hi Vernon. The main reason to use steam is that since our power core doesn't use any fuel, we can keep re-using the same volume of water over and over again. If we split it into hydrogen and oxygen and use the hydrogen for our lift, we would loose the water , which we would have to replace. Airships fly by a delicate balance of weight and lift. In a traditional airship loosing gas or dropping ballast to control elevation is a self limiting process as neither can be replaced. In my design that isn't the case since we can re-use the condensed steam. Check out my latest design post at my blog which actually talks about that very subject :-) http://gearsgogglesnsteam.blogspot.ca/2013/04/practical-airship-design-part-5c.html
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Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.
Kevin

April 21, 2013 at 2:47 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Erin Latimer
Member
Posts: 34

Kevin Jepson at December 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM

In case you haven't seen it, part 5 of my design series is up at my blog here: http://gearsgogglesnsteam.blogspot.ca/2012/12/practical-airship-design-part-5.html The whole series is available by clicking the tag 'Flight Engineer'.

Thanks for linking to this. It's a splendid explenation for those of us who aren't quite...er, mechanically minded. ;)

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Steampunk blog: http://www.thepunkettes.com/

Personal blog: http://www.museslibrary.blogspot.ca/

April 29, 2013 at 1:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kevin Jepson
Member
Posts: 48
Hey folks. I just posted an image of the airship that I have been designing. It is loosely based on the Graf Zeppelin mostly because I like the shape. Check it out. http://gearsgogglesnsteam.blogspot.ca/2013/08/my-airship.html
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Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.
Kevin

August 18, 2013 at 2:25 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kevin Jepson
Member
Posts: 48


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Keep your sightglass full and your firebox trimmed.
Kevin

August 24, 2013 at 1:45 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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