• Primary and albedo solar energy sources for high altitude persistent air vehicle operation

      Smith, Tim; Trancossi, Michele; Vucinic, Dean; Bingham, Chris; Stewart, Paul; University of Lincoln; Sheffield Hallam University; Vrije Universiteit Brussel; University of Derby (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI), 2017-04-22)
      A new class of the all electric airship to globally transport both passengers and freight using a ‘feeder‐cruiser’ concept, and powered by renewable electric energy, is considered. Specific focus is given to photo‐electric harvesting as the primary energy source and the associated hydrogen‐based energy storage systems. Furthermore, it is shown that the total PV output may be significantly increased by utilising cloud albedo effects. Appropriate power architectures and energy audits required for life support, and the propulsion and ancillary loads to support the continuous daily operation of the primary airship (cruiser) at stratospheric altitudes (circa 18 km), are also considered. The presented solution is substantially different from those of conventional aircraft due to the airship size and the inherent requirement to harvest and store sufficient energy during “daylight” operation, when subject to varying seasonal conditions and latitudes, to ensure its safe and continued operation during the corresponding varying “dark hours”. This is particularly apparent when the sizing of the proposed electrolyser is considered, as its size and mass increase nonlinearly with decreasing day‐night duty. As such, a Unitized Regenerative Fuel Cell is proposed. For the first time the study also discusses the potential benefits of integrating the photo‐voltaic cells into airship canopy structures utilising TENSAIRITY®‐based elements in order to eliminate the requirements for separate inter‐PV array wiring and the transport of low pressure hydrogen between fuel cells.