Hydrogen, chemical abbreviation H2, is the lift gas of choice for the personal affordable Skyboat. Yes we can handle H2 safely. Read about the best practices for H2 handling.

Hydrogen beats Helium Lift Gas

  1. Hydrogen, H2, is cheaper than helium, He.
  2. H2 is a renewable gas while He must be drilled from a limited supply in the earth.
  3. H2 can feed fuel cells to generate electricity for propulsion motors.
  4. H2 is flammable and can be employed in cabin heaters and stoves.
  5. H2 has less shipping and distribution costs because it can be generated locally.
  6. H2 is lighter than He and the same volume lifts more.
  7. H2 occurs in a two-proton 'molecular' form which is a bigger thing than the tiny He atom, therefore H2 stays inside a Lift Bag longer than expensive helium.
  8. H2 can be made at home. It's the working man's passport to fly. It's the only way to make an affordable aerostat. Sorry but it's true.



People fear hydrogen because they've heard of the "Hindenburg" crash of 1937 and that's the summation of their hydrogen knowledge. Only thirty-six people perished in that event but sensational newsreel footage of the dying majestic airship burned scary images into the public mind and those striking images are popular seventy years later.
People who mainly associate hydrogen with an antique minor tragedy are stupid about H2. They don't know that the H2 airship "Hindenburg," made seventeen [!] round-trips across the Atlantic Ocean in 1936, taking only three days travel time in each direction. They don't know that the Zeppelin class of airship had previously sailed for years and millions of safe passenger miles, including an around-the-world voyage and regular service between Europe and South America. That is what hydrogen has done and can do again and easily and without fear.

Use the discussion tab to describe your fears of H2 and ways to control those fears.
Also, discuss safety measures that must apply to H2 generation, storage, fueling and flight operations.


Helium dirigibles' cost of operation is horrible. The following is how Dan Nachbar, the creator of the Alfred, the hot air dirigible, summarizes his research into the prohibitively high TCOO, Total Cost Of Ownership, of a helium skyboat:
nachbar
member
3 posts
 
A helium ship projects cost much more due to higher envelope material (and
labor) costs, higher gas costs, and higher storage costs.  Looking at these in turn -
 
Helium envelopes are expensive in order to reduce gas diffusion.  This is true
both for helium getting out of the envelope as well as oxygen and nitrogen
getting in.  Cheap balloons, such as those used by cluster balloonists, last at
most about a week.  Stratospheric balloons operate at much lower pressures
(by about a factor of 20) than sea-level balloons. So they leak at comparably
lower rates.  In general, helium is a very tough bugger to contain.
 
But even if one bites the bullet an builds a expensive/heavy helium envelope one
still has to plan on losing about 1% of the helium every day.  Given the price
of helium (enough helium to provide a ton of gross lift costs at least $10,000)
this gets to be a very significant cost.  If one wants to avoid replacing the helium
even more frequently then one needs to buy and operate a purification system.
 
But it is the needs for storage, namely a hangar, that is the most frequent cause
of death for small helium airship projects.  The cost of the hangar often exceeds
the cost of the ship.  Making matters worse is the fact that even a small ship needs
a hangar that is much taller than the average small airplane which greatly limits one's options.
 
Before starting my work I made a fairly comprehensive study of other small
blimp projects.  This included talking with most of the previous builders on the
phone.  Nothing I heard about helium from the people who had actually
built small helium ships made me want to repeat their choice of lifting gas.
 
One thing that really stood out in these conversations was the need to avoid
"bleeding cash" between flights.  This is particularly true in the early stages
of a project when utilization rates are very low while one works out the inevitable
technical snags.  And helium ships bleed cash constantly.  Hot air ships do not.
 
22nd June 2009 20:12 p.m.

This analysis makes it clear that the Skyboat has to:

1. be foldable for storage inside a trailer.
2. use H2 lift gas since one filling of He would cost as much as the entire Skyboat Project would cost to make one personal airship!
3. be deflated on a regular basis so the H2 lift gas can be purified or replaced.



The electrical cost of electrolyzing 250 cubic meters of H2. is about $350 depending on equipment and local cost of electricity.